On Monday, Rex Tillerson, the U.S. Secretary of State was found at odds from his low-profile demeanour as he made headlines due to his statements regarding Russia. Lately, relations between the two countries have been more strained than usual due to evidence of Russia meddling in the recent U.S. elections.
Following a lengthy meeting with the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister, Tillerson was quoted saying that “this (the interference) had created serious mistrust between our two countries.” Although Russia has consistently maintained that it did not interfere in the election, Tillerson, while speaking at the Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum said, “We talked about it in the discussion we had with Minister Lavrov yesterday – and trying to help them understand just how serious this incident had been and how seriously it had damaged the relationship between the US and the American people and the Russian people.” Tillerson further emphasized that the two countries would have to find a way to deal with the situation. Meanwhile, in response to the allegation, Trump begrudgingly signed legislation to impose new sanctions on Russia. The bill passed through congress with much enthusiasm, the White House remained uncharacteristically tight lipped.
Meanwhile, in response to the allegation, President Donald Trump begrudgingly signed a legislation to impose new sanctions on Russia. The bill passed through Congress with much enthusiasm, but the White House remained uncharacteristically tight-lipped.
Russia has not taken lightly to this matter and consequently responded with the expulsion of 755 diplomatic staff members from the U.S. embassy in Moscow and the seized two American compounds. The U.S. mission to Russia has been advised to reduce its strength.
Furthermore, Tillerson broke the chain of action and reaction as he addressed the issue at the ASEAN summit. Tillerson acknowledged that he “…told the foreign minister that we have not made a decision about how we would respond to the Russian request to remove US diplomatic personnel. I asked several clarifying questions, just to describe the thinking behind that diplomatic note that we received, but I told them we would respond by September 1.”
In the meantime, while there is no action decided in response to the staff cut, Tillerson noted that the two countries have always had differences, but would have to continue to find a way to work together. “I don’t think it is useful to just cut everything off on one single issue,” he said. “These are two very large countries and we should find places that we can work together, let’s try to work together,” Tillerson added. Moreover, Russia’s Foreign Secretary issued a statement saying that he told Tillerson that Russia is willing to work on the strained relationship as long as the U.S. “pulls back from confrontation.”
With that said, it is evident that the former Cold War foes are emphasizing an interest towards a diplomatic resolution of the current status between the two countries.