Washington (CNN)US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power on Tuesday rapped President-elect Donald Trump for his defense of Moscow and delivered a stark warning about Russian efforts to undermine the international order.
Power’s remarks, at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, are just the latest warning by outgoing Obama administration officials of the need to be wary of Russian intentions as Trump repeatedly asserts his desire for better ties with Moscow, sometimes criticizing US intelligence services in the process.
Power made indirect reference to Trump, who denigrated US intelligence agencies after their conclusion that Russia had hacked the US election in an attempt to undermine Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“What is not healthy is for a party or its leaders to cast doubt on a unanimous, well-documented assessment of our intelligence community that a foreign government is seeking to harm our country,” Power said.
Citing Russia’s invasion of Crimea, it’s interventions in Syria and Ukraine as well as what she called its meddling in European democracies, Power warned that a balance had to be struck between cooperating with Russia where possible, while confronting the threat it poses in a clear-eyed fashion.
“Russia’s actions are not standing up a new world order,” Power said, “they are tearing down the one that exists. This is what we are fighting against — having defeated the forces of fascism and communism, we now confront the forces of authoritarianism and nihilism.”
Trump suggested that intelligence services may have leaked information compiled by opposition researchers — and circulating widely in Washington — that found Russia might have compromising personal and financial information about Trump that could be used to influence him.
Power’s remarks come after John Brennan, the Director of National Intelligence, delivered a thinly veiled warning to the President-elect on FOX News on Jan. 15.
“I don’t think he has a full appreciation of Russian capabilities, Russia’s intentions, and actions they are undertaking in many parts of the world,” Brennan said. “I think he has to be mindful that he does not yet, I think, have a full appreciation and understanding of what the implications are of going down that road, as well as making sure he understands what he’s doing.”
Trump, who likened the intelligence community to Nazi Germany, has said often that he seeks a better relationship with Russia and praised President Vladimir Putin. Putin, speaking in Moscow on Tuesday, said that there was clearly an ongoing effort “to undermine the legitimacy of the elected president.”