Speaking at a conference in Normandy, Dan Coats, the intelligence director, listed a series of actions by Russia in addition to its annexation of Crimea, including its efforts to interfere in American and European elections and the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter living in Britain.
“These Russian actions are purposeful and premeditated and they represent an all-out assault by Vladimir Putin on the rule of law, Western ideals and democratic norms,” Mr. Coats said, according to prepared remarks. “His actions demonstrate that he seeks to sow divisions within and between those in the West who adhere to democratic norms.”
“The Russians are actively seeking to divide our alliance,” Mr. Coats added, “and we must not allow that to happen.”
Mr. Trump has never expressed the outrage at Russia’s actions in Ukraine that European leaders feel, essentially casting it as a local issue that did not really concern the United States. In 2016, as a candidate, he suggested that he would be open to recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, even though it had been denounced by most of the rest of the world as illegal.
Some foreign policy experts said Mr. Trump had a point about bringing Russia back to the table with the Group of 7. Jeremy Shapiro, a former State Department official who has been critical of the president, said “every once in a while he gets it right.” The breakdown of the West’s relationship with Russia stems from the failure to recognize Russia’s legitimate status in the world, he said.
“The G-7, G-8, is a big symbol of that,” said Mr. Shapiro, now the research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations, based in London. “Letting them in was a big deal, and kicking them out was a big deal. We have to get past the notion that going to these meetings is some kind of reward.”