"I guess what we've been learning about Trump is that he actually does what he said he was going to do. The problem is the sanctions were imposed for what the Russians did in Ukraine and Crimea. The Germans have worked hard to keep this together, as the French president has," said Professor Angela Stent, director Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University. "This would send a message to Russia that it can get away with it, but it undermines the European Union's efforts to hold Russia accountable."
Obama first imposed sanctions after Russia invaded Crimea, claiming it to be part of Russia. "It's the Europeans who did it much later when the (Malaysian) airline was shot down over Ukraine," Stent said.
Bremmer expects Trump to move forward regardless of prevailing sentiment Europe, where nationalist candidates stand to gain ground in several elections this year. In France, Marine Le Pen has gained in polls. She says she wants to get rid of the euro currency.
"Germany is the country that's in the most vulnerable position because of Trump, compared to most of the American allies. Europe is getting weaker. He likes Brexit, says other countries should leave. Germany is the country most interested in maintaining a strong Europe, and Trump is undermining (Merkel). Trump is renouncing American exceptionalism, in not telling other countries what to do," said Bremmer.
At the same press conference where Trump spoke on Friday, British Prime Minister Theresa May was forthright in saying that sanctions against Russia should continue until Russia conforms agreements designed to reduce fighting in Ukraine.
Bremmer believes Trump will move forward quickly. But other experts say Trump may ease sanctions slowly — and therefore less visibly — rather than tossing them out right after taking office.
Critics have called out Trump for praising Vladimir Putin, whom U.S. intelligence concluded was personally involved in trying to undermine last year's U.S. presidential election and help get Trump elected. Rex Tillerson, Trump's candidate for Secretary of State who just retired as CEO of ExxonMobil, and has strong personal links to Moscow and his former company has billions at stake in Russia.
Trump initially refused to accept intelligence community findings that Russian officials intentionally meddled in the U.S. election by hacking into Democratic National Committee computers. Trump has since vowed to make the U.S. more secure from cyber espionage, but has said nothing about punishing Russia.
There is also another consideration. Tillerson has yet to be approved by the Senate. Tillerson was questioned by Congress on his feelings about Russia. One strategist said Trump may not lift sanctions right away because of the Tillerson vote, expected next week.