South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley argued Wednesday that the United States cannot trust the Russians and President Vladimir Putin, and said the U.S. must use caution while dealing with Russia.
"Russia is trying to show their muscle right now. It is what they do, and I think we always have to be cautious," said Haley, who is President-elect Trump's nominee to serve as Ambassador to the United Nations.
"I don't think that we can trust them," she told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pointing to Russia's actions in Syria. "I think that we have to make sure that we try and see what we can get from them before we give to them. We have to continue to be very strong back and show them what this new administration is going to be, and it is going to be an America that shows exactly where we stand, what we are for, what we are against, and how we're going to proceed."
Haley said that while Russia has committed atrocities in Syria and has taken inappropriate actions in Crimea and Ukraine, the U.S. will still need to work with Russia to fight the Islamic State.
"I think we need to let them know we are not okay with what happened in Ukraine and Crimea and what is happening in Syria," she said. "But we're also going to tell them that we do need their help with ISIS and some other threats that we all share."
Haley said Crimea remains territory of Ukraine despite the Russian annexation of the peninsula in 2014, but declined to say whether the U.S. should increase sanctions on the Russians, which was proposed last week by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Haley also pushed back against talk in support for the creation of a Muslim registry, which Trump has not shied away from since becoming president-elect. She told Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., that both she and the incoming administration do not favor "any registry based on religion."
Initially, Trump called for a ban on Muslim entry into the United States, but that has evolved into support for an entry ban on individuals from terrorism-centered countries.
"This administration and I don't think there should be any registry based on religion," Haley said. "I think what we do need to do is make sure which countries are a threat, which ones have terrorism, and those are the ones we need to be careful and vet in terms of who comes into the country."