Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has changed his view of Russia as a result of spending time with “bad company” in Washington.
“But I hope that the wind of cooperation and friendship will blow him onto the right track in the end”, the Russian leader said at a business forum on Thursday (Sept 6) in the Russian far east city of Vladivostok. As recently as July Mr Putin said Mr Tillerson was a “respected man” in Russian Federation because of the honour.
Putin gave Tillerson – who was then chief executive of ExxonMobil – the award in 2013 for his “significant contribution to strengthening cooperation in the energy sector”. We’ll have some questions.
Tillerson had no government experience prior to becoming secretary of state, which might help explain why he’s reportedly struggled to bring order and direction to the State Department.
Moscow initially applauded the news of Tillerson’s appointment as America’s top diplomat, hailing the news as an indication that Trump would fulfill his campaign promises to improve U.S. -Russia relations.
More recently, the US called for the Russian consulate in San Francisco and diplomatic annexes in Washington and NY to close as a response to the expulsion of the 755 diplomats. The deal stalled in 2014, when the Obama administration leveled sanctions against Russian Federation over its actions in Ukraine; relations between the US and Russian Federation deteriorated further when the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 presidential election, tipping the scales for Trump but ultimately poisoning any chance for détente. Putin retaliated by announcing the expulsion of 755 USA diplomats, representing one of the harshest diplomatic moves between the two countries since the Cold War. Putin made the comments after awarding the Order of Friendship to Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang, remarking on the growth of Chinese investment in Russian Federation.