President Donald Trump said Tuesday that "probably nobody's" had a tougher posture toward Russia than him during his time in office, citing the strength of the U.S. military and America's large-scale oil and gas production.
Trump made the comment while answering questions from reporters during a meeting with leaders of the Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
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Trump said that he has "great respect" for the Baltic states, calling their leaders "tremendous" before discussing whether he wants Washington to have a positive relationship with Moscow.
"Ideally we want to be able get along with Russia. Getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing," Trump said. "Now, maybe we will, and maybe we won't."
"Probably nobody has been tougher to Russia than Donald Trump," the president continued. "If you take a look at our military strength now, which would not have happened had the opponent won. If you take a look at the oil and gas that we are producing now, we are independent. We're now exporting oil and gas. This is not something that Russia wanted."
Trump also said that NATO is "much stronger" after the alliance took in more money "because of Donald Trump," citing praise from the three Baltic state presidents.
Critics have charged that Trump has not taken strong enough measures against Russia during his presidency.
Last week, the Trump administration expelled 60 Russian intelligence agents and ordered the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle. The punitive measures came after the U.S. and several European countries accused Moscow of poisoning a Russian military intelligence defector and his daughter with a nerve agent in England.
The media largely slammed Trump last month after he called Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on winning reelection. Former President Barack Obama made a similar call to Putin when he was in the White House in 2012.