In the early days of the Trump administration, a senior National Security Council official floated the idea of withdrawing some U.S. troops from the Baltics in order to make Russian President Vladimir Putin happy, The Daily Beast reports.
A former administration official told The Daily Beast that the official, Kevin Harrington, offered the proposal in February 2017, seeing this as a strategy to "refram[e] our interests within the context of a new relationship with Russia." The former official said Harrington was unable to show how withdrawing or repositioning troops in the Baltics would be beneficial to the U.S., and he felt the idea showed Harrington's naiveté — he had no government or military experience, but was a friend of Trump ally Peter Thiel. "I sensed we were giving something and it wasn't clear what we were gaining in return," the former official said.
The Daily Beast notes this is the first known case of a Trump aide wanting to move troops around as a way of pleasing Putin. Harrington was brought on by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired last February and pleaded guilty last month to lying to the FBI. Harrington, whose proposal was never adopted, remains on staff at the White House.