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 Trump comes under pressure to soften pro-Russian rhetoric, - Reuters

President-elect Donald Trump is finding himself caught between his desire to improve relations with Russia and fellow Republicans who are pushing for a harsher response to what American spy agencies say was the Kremlin's meddling in the U.S. presidential election.

Censor.NET reports citing Reuters.

The tacit acknowledgement on Sunday by his incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus, that Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic Party organizations suggests that Trump's maneuvering room could be shrinking.

Trump has long been dismissive of the U.S. intelligence conclusion that Russia was behind the election hacks, which Russia has denied, or was trying to help him win the November ballot, saying the intrusions could have been carried out by China or a 400-pound hacker sitting on his bed.

Read more: US senators to introduce bill on 'comprehensive' sanctions against Russia

But following a report from U.S. intelligence agencies last week blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia experts say Trump will face growing calls for a stiff military, diplomatic, economic, and perhaps also covert response after his Jan. 20 inauguration.

"The new U.S. administration will need to adopt a significantly tougher line," said Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington that is an influential voice in Trump's transition team.

Republicans in Congress wary of Trump's push for detente with Putin could pressure the new president to withhold the thing the Russian leader wants most: a rapid easing of the economic sanctions imposed after Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, the Russia experts said.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he and fellow Republican John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, would introduce legislation with stronger sanctions than the ones now in place.

Read more: "We are observing serious fatigue with these accusations," - Kremlin spokesman on Russian hacking

"We're going to introduce sanctions that... will hit them in the financial sector and the energy sector, where they're the weakest," Graham told NBC television's Meet the Press.

Retired Marine General James Mattis, the nominee for secretary of defense who will face a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, is expected to advocate a stronger line against Moscow than the one Trump outlined during his election campaign.That could put him at odds with Trump's national security adviser, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who has had warmer relations with Putin's government, and with Rex Tillerson, the nominee for secretary of state, who as CEO of ExxonMobil had extensive business ties with Russia.

If Mattis does push for a tougher approach to Russia, that could empower U.S. advocates for strengthening the American military presence in Europe. That could include reinforcing U.S. troops in the Baltic states and Poland, analysts say.

See more: First US Abrams tanks delivered in Poland to protect NATO's eastern borders. PHOTOS+VIDEO

NATO already plans to deploy 4,000 additional troops, planes, tanks and artillery to the three former Soviet republics in the Baltics and Poland this year.

 
 
 
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