A top official on the National Security Council last year proposed withdrawing some U.S. forces from the Baltics in an effort to please Vladimir Putin, the Daily Beast reported Tuesday.
Two former administration officials told the publication that Kevin Harrington, a deputy assistant to President Donald Trump for strategic planning, pitched the plan to remove or reposition some U.S. forces stationed in Eastern Europe in February 2017.
Though Harrington’s proposal never came to fruition, it represented a remarkable pivot from decades of U.S. foreign policy. One former NSC colleague, speaking to the Beast, called it a “gesture to the Kremlin that would enable the nascent Trump administration to see if its desire for a friendly relationship with Russia would be reciprocated.”
U.S. forces have been stationed throughout Europe since the Cold War as a counter-weight to Russia, and were detailed to the Baltics after the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
As the Beast previously reported, Harrington has proposed other measures that would please Putin, such as the easing of sanctions on the Russian oil industry.
Harrington is a former colleague of Trump ally Peter Thiel and of ousted national security adviser Mike Flynn. He managed to retain his high-ranking position on the NSC after Flynn was forced out of the White House.