Andrew Harrer-Pool / Getty Images “/> 19659010] The National Security Advisor HR McMaster, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hear at a press conference in Washington DC on March 6, 2018
McMaster was a strong critic of Russia.
Under his leadership, the National Security Council recommended Trump to expel 60 alleged Russian intelligence agents over the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom – an action that Trump led in solidarity with more than two dozen US allies. Russia has denied the participation.
The Trump government has also sanctioned Russia for its cyberattacks, including in the 2016 presidential election and because of its entry into eastern Ukraine – where the US is now selling deadly weapons – a step the Obama administration has never taken.
But McMaster said the US needs to do more.
"We are acting, but we need to recognize that we all need to do more to respond to and ward off Russian aggression," he said, detailing four steps in particular: to integrate the various government tools into cyber To improve defense, greater allied investment and a strong commitment to Western values.
"We must strengthen our resolve, work together to share responsibility, catalyze positive change, and effectively compete in new arenas," he warned. "There is nothing unavoidable in the course of human events and history, and there is no arc of history – there is no so-called end to history – that will ensure our success."
But he had this message for Putin: "The Russian aggression strengthens our resolve and our confidence, we could all help Mr. Putin understand his grave mistake."
Tuesday's address was not the first time that McMaster had harsh words for Russia – but the last time he spoke, his own boss fired on him.
"The evidence is now incontrovertible" that Russia interfered in the US election, he said in February, after Special Adviser Robert Mueller had indicted 13 Russian officials and detailed their campaign. Hours later Trump tweeted "General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 elections were not influenced or changed by the Russians and that the only collusion between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems took place to the filthy dossier, uranium, speeches, e-mails and the Podesta Society! "
John Bolton will serve as National Security Advisor on April 9. McMaster, an active three-star general, said he was grateful for "the great privilege of serving the United States for 34 years."
McMaster joined Tillerson in criticizing Russia on his way to the door.
Hours before Trump went to Twitter to discuss his dismissal Tillerson was his most critical of Russia, telling reporters traveling back from Africa with him, "I've become extremely worried about Russia … what "We have seen that a pivot point is more aggressive on its part, and this is very, very disturbing for me and others, that there seems to be some unleashing of activity that we do not fully understand what the goal is behind it."
Trump's top diplomat published a statement that described Russia as an "irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the lives of their citizens."