Trump Says Russian Syria Expansion After U.S. Departs Is ‘Fine’’

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The president also said Russia would find that involving itself in Syria would become a costly endeavor.

President Donald Trump indicated he is unconcerned by Russia filling the vacuum created when he ordered remaining U.S. troops in northern Syria to withdraw ahead of Turkey’s incursion into the region.

According to Bloomberg News, Trump said, “Syria may have some help with Russia and that’s fine,” adding, “It’s a lot of sand. They’ve got a lot of sand over there, so there’s a lot of sand they can play with.”

The president then offered a brief history lesson as he predicted Russian involvement in Syria would become too costly to maintain: “It used to be called the Soviet Union, now it’s called Russia for a reason - because they lost so much money in Afghanistan they had to downsize,” Trump said. “A very big downsizing. So if Russia wants to get involved with Syria that’s really up to them. They have a problem with Turkey, they have a problem with the border. It’s not our border, we shouldn’t be losing lives over it.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched an invasion into northern Syria after Trump said he would clear the way by removing U.S. forces a week ago.

Erdogan rejected calls for a ceasefire on Tuesday, saying Turkey would do no such thing until the region is cleared of Kurdish fighters.

Trump said on Wednesday that he believes economic sanctions will be more effective in countering Turkey’s aggression than maintaining the presence of U.S. troops.

“Sanctions work frankly better than fighting, certainly when you’re down to 28 people,” the president said. “We’re not going to be fighting, we didn’t want to fight anyways, I didn’t think there was any reason to from the United States perspective.”

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