US Politics: Tensions increase between Trump and Putin over Syria action

President Trump may be on the brink of direct conflict with Russia, while domestic issues still persist.
President Trump may be on the brink of direct conflict with Russia, while domestic issues still persist.
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The US President and Russia's Vladimir Putin square up as the world fears direct conflict could be on the horizon. The Tradefair team brings you the latest in US Politics...

"We stand ready to provide military options if they’re appropriate, as the President determined.”

- Jim Mattis, US Defense Secretary.

Not for the first time during his presidency, Donald Trump appears to be in danger of reaching breaking point. It's not just the issues he is experiencing domestically - such as the Mueller investigation - but it's difficult to think of a time when international relations have been so strained for the US President.

As well as facing retaliations from China over his increased tariff imports, President Trump is also in the middle of a verbal battle with Russia's President Vladimir Putin. There are significant concerns that the to-and-fro between Putin and Trump could easily escalate to more than just words, putting lives at risk.

Mueller continues to cause problems

Earlier this week, reports emerged that the President's Personal Attorney Michael Cohen had been the subject of a raid by the FBI.

The New York Times cited three different sources who gave details about the search, which appears to be motivated by questions over Cohen's involvement in suppressing negative information surrounding Trump in 2016.

At the centre of this is the "Access Hollywood" recording that sees the then-presidential candidate bragging about his ability to sexually assault women because of his fame. However, it still appears unclear what the link between the tape, which happened in 2005, and the President's current lawyer.

The search was ordered by Robert Mueller, who is still leading an investigation into potential unconstitutional conduct during Trump's 2016 campaign. There are reports that the President hasn't taken very kindly to the FBI search of his personal attorney and is desperately seeking a way to shut down Mueller and his team.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said shortly after the news of the search emerged that the President had "very deep concern about the direction that the special counsel and other investigations have taken".

The US and Russia at loggerheads

Despite allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections, tensions between it and the US President could not be more strained.

A gas attack in Douma, which killed dozens of people and injured hundreds more including many children on Saturday (April 7), has sparked the row between the two key nations, who have until now appeared to be publicly strengthening their relationship.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that the US is still looking into the information surrounding the chemical attack but that military planning was proceeding.

"We stand ready to provide military options if they're appropriate, as the President determined," he said.

The US, along with France and the UK, have condemned the alleged attack but President Trump has gone one step further to blame the Kremlin for the incident. President Bashar al-Assad's government - which receives military backing from Russia - denies any responsibility for the attack, putting the blame on local rebels.

Speaking at an UN meeting to discuss the incident, Russian representative Vassily Nebenzia said the incident had been staged and warned the US against any military action. He presented the attack as another attempt by America to hurt Russia with a "broad arsenal of methods", including slander, insults and "hawkish rhetoric".

The Syrian-American Medical Society said more than 500 people presented symptoms "indicative of exposure to a chemical agent". However, Russia has said its experts have found no trace of "chlorine or any other chemical substance used against civilians".

Nebenzia said troops would escort investigators from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to the area of the alleged attack, indicating that this would provide evidence to support his defence.

The US has said "all options are on the table" when it comes to whether or not to take action against the Syrian government including military attack.

A precarious time ahead?

With its increasing tensions with Russia and the prospect of a trade war with China, the US is at the centre of a lot of international debate and President Trump is at the heart of it. Many doubt his ability to negotiate and that his brash approach could put lives at risk, especially if the fallout from the Syrian attack leads to military action.

But this unforgiving stance is what won Donald Trump his spot in the Oval Office over 15 months ago, with his pledge to "make America great again". However, this kind of action is unlikely to have any positive impact on the US economy or the Dow Jones, at least in the near future.

Stocks and shares have been in a precarious state since the President announced there would be an increase for import charges, which triggered retaliation from China. Looking at his presidency as a whole though, the stock market has added a quarter to its value since the election, which equates to around $5 trillion.

But what about the long term? Concerns that the US could be approaching crisis point, due to the massive tax cuts and substantial increases in spend from the government. These anxieties are unlikely to be soothed by the raised tensions between America and some of the strongest global economies.

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