While distancing himself from President Donald Trump’s effort to accommodate Putin at this month’s Helsinki summit, Portman said the Trump administration has adopted the toughest policies against Russia since the Cold War.
Portman said the administration has provided weapons to Ukraine and conducted military exercises in Eastern Europe which is “not making the Kremlin happy.”
“There are concerns, as I expressed after Helsinki, of an inconsistent public posture as to Russia, but in terms of policy, I think the administration is doing things that are appropriate and very tough,” Portman said.
Portman said “we don’t know what happened” when Trump met privately with Putin without the participation of his top foreign policy advisers, adding he does not “know whether to be happy or not.”
“My concern was about the public statements not being consistent and clear with our policies,” Portman said.
Portman said “talks” with Putin “are appropriate,” but in a veiled criticism of Trump he said “you need to be prepared for them.” Trump has often been criticized for not thoroughly preparing himself to meet foreign leaders.
“We are two superpowers and have nuclear weapons and need to talk,” Portman said.