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Russian Reactions to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Visit

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Moscow on April 11-12, 2017 came against the backdrop of a recent U.S. missile strike on a Syrian airbase that was followed by political tensions between Russia and the U.S.[1] At the G7 meeting in Italy just prior to his trip to Moscow, Tillerson had stated: “I think it’s also worth thinking about Russia has [sic] really aligned itself with the Assad regime, the Iranians, and Hizbullah. Is that a long-term alliance that serves Russia’s interest, or would Russia prefer to realign with the United States, with other Western countries and Middle East countries who are seeking to resolve the Syrian crisis? We want to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people. We want to create a future for Syria that is stable and secure. And so Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role, or Russia can maintain its alliance with this group, which we believe is not going to serve Russia’s interest longer-term. But only Russia can answer that question.”[2]

Commenting on Tillerson’s words, Russia Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “It’s useless to come to us with ultimatums, it’s just counterproductive.”[3] However, the meeting between Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov changed Russia’s internal mood. Maxim Usim, columnist for the Russian daily Kommersant, noted that Tillerson’s language was not confrontational and that this had enabled him to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin just before his departure from Moscow.

The following are reactions to U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson’s Moscow visit:

tillerson russia

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. (Source: State.gov)

Senator Kosachev: “The American Did Not Come With Absurd Proposals… None Of The Parties… Have A Desire To Further Exacerbate The Situation”

Russian Federation Council International Affairs Committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev wrote on his Facebook page: “The first impression is quite positive. No breakthrough occurred, and no one expected it. However, the two sides were able to avoid the temptation of the overstated expectations, and the modest results of the meeting are still positive.” Kosachev stressed that a meaningful result was the Russian and U.S. commitment to maintaining the dialogue by “institutionalizing it in the format of special representatives.”

He added: “The two sides now have a better understanding of the possible and impossible limits in the prospects for bilateral relations and in the interpretation of international problems. The Americans obviously did not come with some absurd proposals similar to exchanging (Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad) for G7 membership, Ukraine for Syria and so on, and also not only with moralizing and ultimatums.”

He stressed: “Otherwise, the meeting with (Russian President Vladimir Putin) would have not taken place, as wasting time on empty words is not his style.”

Kosachev also said that Russia “unambiguously confirmed its willingness to restore cooperation, provided that the two sides could do without the notorious American mentoring and arrogance. Anyway, none of the parties seems to have a desire to further exacerbate the situation, and everyone believes that it is not hopeless.”

(Tass.com, April 13, 2017)

(Source: Sputniknews.com, April 12, 2017)

Kommersant Columnist: Tillerson’s Moderate Language Enabled Meeting With Putin

Maxim Usim, a columnist for the Russian daily Kommersant, wrote that Tillerson’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was not confrontational, but rather business oriented. According to Usim, Tillerson avoided using harsh language regarding Russian policies, while Lavrov was reserved and diplomatic. The impression, wrote Usim, is that both sides want to minimize the damage to bilateral relations by “Trump’s Syrian escapade,” adding that the mere fact that Tillerson avoided “speaking in terms of sanctions and ultimatums” made the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin possible.

(Kommersant.ru, April 12, 2017)

Izvestia: “The First Attempt To Get Along May Be Considered Productive, Even If Not Fully Successful”

The Russian daily Izvestia summarized Tillerson’s the visit as follows: “The most important thing is that during this very short but very intense visit the sides succeeded in reaching an agreement regarding further steps to be taken in order to get rid of the bilateral crisis. At the same time, the visit’s message to the world was: The first attempt to ‘get along’ may be considered productive, even if not fully successful.”

(Izvestia.ru, April 13, 2017)

Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman: “There Was No Ultimatum”

Duma International Affairs Committee chairman Leonid Slutsky stated: “One of the visit’s results is the failed prognosis regarding some kinds of U.S. ultimatum. There was no ultimatum. On the contrary, the sides agreed on establishing a joint group in order to look into the most complicated questions of the Russia-U.S. agenda.”

(Tass.com, April 12, 2017)

Tillerson: “We want to relieve the suffering of the Iraq… Ouch… Liby… Ouch… Syrian people.” The cartoon was published prior to Tillerson’s visit. (Ria.ru, April 11, 2017)

Senator Klintzevich: “It Is Now Obvious That Tillerson’s Visit Was Not A Waste Of Time”

Senator Franz Klintsevich, deputy chair of the Federation Council Defense and Security Committee, commented: “It is now obvious that Tillerson’s visit was not a waste of time. Reiterating the mutual commitment to fight international terror is the maximum which could have been achieved, given the recent negative developments. At the moment, it’s quite stupid to discuss who won and who lost as the result of the meeting, who saved face and who lost face… The sides opted for mutual compromise, but as a result they secured the chance to really cooperate against ISIS. That’s what is really important.”

(Tass.com, April 12, 2017)

Ivan Melnikov, Communist Party, Vice-speaker of Duma: “Given the unpredicted U.S. actions influencing the situation, we may judge only by the deeds rather than by the words and intentions. Mr. Tillerson leaves good impression, and speaks respectfully about Russia as a superpower – but what if the principles of the American imperialism remain in force?”

(Tass.com, April 12, 2017)

Ruling Party United Russia MP Sergey Zheleznyak: “The meeting demonstrated that despite the differences, our countries are interested in cooperation concerning various areas – solving burning international crises as well as renewing economic cooperation. We’ll see how Tillerson’s words in Moscow will coincide with the administration’s actions and then we’ll draw our conclusions.”

(Tass.com, April 12, 2017)

Senator Pushkov: The Meeting Was “The Start Of Dialogue”

Senator Alexey Pushkov tweeted: “Frontal confrontation has been cancelled. Russia and the U.S. proceed from the war of words towards exchanging opinions, controlling the differences and cautious dialogue.”

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, April 12, 2017)

Pushkov also tweeted: “The summary of the negotiations in Moscow: Not yet a breakthrough, but the start of dialogue and an attempt to strengthen the mutual trust after serious tensions erupted.”

(Twitter.com/Alexey_Pushkov, April 12, 2017)

According to a Russian Defense Ministry source quoted in the Vedomosti newspaper, Moscow is ready for dialogue and does not consider a dangerous direct confrontation with the U.S. to be inevitable. Simultaneously, Moscow demonstrates its readiness to strengthen its military positions in Syria – this is the message delivered by the deployment of the frigate Admiral Grigorovich to the Mediterranean.

(Vedomosti.ru, April 13, 2017)

REFERENCES:

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6866, Russia’s Reactions To The U.S. Missile Strike In Syria, April 10, 2017.

[2] State.gov, April 11, 2017.

[3] Ria.ru, April 12, 2017.

U.S. and Canada Trade Unions love Tillerson ‘offer full support’

WASHINGTON, D.C. /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following statement was issued today by North America’s Building Trades Unions in response to the announcement by President-elect Donald J. Trump that he has nominated Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next U.S. Secretary of State:

“For almost a decade, North America’s Building Trades Unions have had the opportunity to work closely with Rex Tillerson in his current capacity as the Chief Executive Officer of Exxon Mobile.  During that time working directly with him, and also in conjunction with the Oil & Natural Gas Industry Labor-Management Committee, Mr. Tillerson demonstrated a strong intellect, a resilient and dynamic grasp of both global and domestic policy issues, and a deep and unyielding sense of patriotism for our great nation.

“Rex Tillerson has successfully shepherded Exxon Mobile through very tumultuous times in terms of global geo-politics. With his intellect, his wit, and his deep understanding and knowledge of the world as it exists today, we believe he will be a tremendous success as Secretary of State, and we offer our full support for his confirmation.”

north-americas-building-trades-unions-logoABOUT NORTH AMERICA’S BUILDING TRADES UNIONS

North America’s Building Trades Unions is an alliance of 14 national and international unions in the building and construction industry that collectively represent over 3 million skilled craft professionals in the United States and Canada. Each year, our unions and our signatory contractor partners invest over $1 billion in private sector money to fund and operate over 1,900 apprenticeship training and education facilities across North America that produce the safest, most highly trained and productive skilled craft workers found anywhere in the world.

What They Are Saying about Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State

Stephen Hadley, former National Security Advisor under President George W. Bush:

“It is a strong choice. Mr. Tillerson has broad experience and established relationships throughout the world. They will be of enormous value as the new administration develops its foreign policy strategy and approach.”

Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State:

“Rex Tillerson is an excellent choice for Secretary of State. He will bring to the post remarkable and broad international experience; a deep understanding of the global economy; and a belief in America’s special role in the world.

“I know Rex as a successful businessman and a patriot. He will represent the interests and the values of the United States with resolve and commitment. And he will lead the exceptional men and women of the State Department with respect and dedication.

“I look forward to supporting Rex through the confirmation process and then welcoming him to the family of Secretaries of State.”

Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense:

“I strongly endorse the President-elect’s selection of Rex Tillerson to be the next Secretary of State. He would bring to the position vast knowledge, experience and success in dealing with dozens of governments and leaders in every corner of the world. He is a person of great integrity whose only goal in office would be to protect and advance the interests of the United States. I know this Eagle Scout will be a global champion of the best values of our country.”

Former Vice President Dick Cheney:

“The selection of Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State is an inspired choice. I’ve known Rex for many years both in his role as the Chairman and CEO of Exxon and as a personal friend. He has the vast experience, ability, and judgment to deal with the very dangerous world we find confronting us. His extensive knowledge of the global situation will be an asset in representing our nation. As the Chairman and CEO of Exxon, he has operated in nations all over the globe, and managed one of our largest corporations. I’m confident that he will do a superb job promoting our national interests in dealing with the complex and difficult choices that are on the agenda for the next administration.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

“Rex Tillerson’s decades of experience have been widely recognized for forward-looking strategic planning, managing international partnerships and risk, and focused leadership around the world.

“As President-elect Trump’s choice for nomination for Secretary of State, he will bring this critical skills, knowledge and capabilities into an important role after eight years of the Obama administration’s uncertain leadership.

“We need a full review of our national security policy, and I know Rex will face each problem head on with American interests and security as his top priority. I look forward to supporting his nomination.”

Robert Charles, former Assistant Secretary of State:

“Another fascinating, deep, insightful choice — Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. What should every American know about this selection? A few things they may not have heard yet. Exxon’s Chairman and CEO, Rex Tillerson is another novel choice, as edgy in diplomacy as he is proven in business. … What is the take-away from this savvy appointment? A new professionalism is in the air — and it’s about time. Whatever friction he may encounter in the wind tunnel of change, he is likely to do well, and bring a perspective not often seen in the Capitol.” Fox News

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ):

“The fact that Condi Rice, James Baker and Bob Gates are recommending Tillerson carries considerable weight. I look forward to the hearings.”

Jeff Immelt, CEO General Electric:

“I applaud the President-Elect for his choice of Rex Tillerson for the role of Secretary of State. I have worked closely with Rex on significant projects all over the world. As the leader of Exxon Mobil, a truly global American company, Rex has an exceptional understanding of our country’s essential and strategic role in the world. More importantly, he has a contemporary, ground-level view of our most important relationships. He is highly respected, well-travelled, a great negotiator and smart.”

Suzanne Maloney, Brookings Institution:

“In today’s competitive and interconnected world, leading a major multinational corporation requires many of the same skills as diplomacy: immersion in global politics and culture, keen capacity for assessing threats and opportunities, competence in managing bureaucracies as well as unforeseen crises.

“Great diplomats have come from many walks of life. Although the Foreign Service may be the primary incubator, many brilliant statesmen began their careers elsewhere. James Baker, George H.W. Bush ’s secretary of state, was a lawyer. My current boss, Strobe Talbott, was a journalist before serving as deputy secretary of state during the Clinton administration. If nominated and confirmed, Mr. Tillerson could turn out to be another example.”
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Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (R-TN):

“I very much appreciated President-elect Trump calling me last night to let me know that he would be nominating Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State.

“Mr. Tillerson is a very impressive individual and has an extraordinary working knowledge of the world. I congratulate him on his nomination and look forward to meeting with him and chairing his confirmation hearing.”

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI):

“Tillerson nom adds another world-class player to impressive team. I look forward to meeting, discussing enormous global challenges we face.”

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX):

“Rex Tillerson’s successful tenure leading a large multinational corporation reflects a keen ability to navigate complex geopolitical issues across the globe. His experience will be critical as the next Secretary of State will face a broad array of diplomatic challenges that will define the security and success of our nation for generations. A lifelong Texan, I’ve long valued Rex’s insight and look forward to supporting his nomination.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI):

“Congratulations to Rex Tillerson, a proven leader and person of enormous accomplishment.”

Newt Gingrich:

“Getting Rex Tillerson to serve as Secretary of State is a great achievement by President elect Trump. He will help make America great again.”

Jim DeMint, Heritage Foundation President:

“For too long, the United States has acted from a position of weakness on the world stage, and Mr. Tillerson must work to reverse this dangerous decline. The Trump administration has the opportunity to reinvigorate American leadership abroad by projecting the strength and stability that have been the bedrock of our diplomacy for more than two centuries. Mr. Tillerson must defend American interests, stand resolute in the face of challenges from adversarial powers such as Russia, Iran and China, and reassure our allies that the United States will continue to stand with them in an increasingly dangerous and complex world.”

Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III:

“Rex Tillerson, who is a friend of mine, is an excellent choice to head the State Department and has an opportunity to be a very effective Secretary of State. As CEO of one of the world’s largest and best-run companies, has demonstrated the management and negotiating skills, and has the international experience, that are required in the job. Further, I am confident he will understand the global challenges facing the United States and has the intellect to address them.”

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee:

“I trust President-elect Trump to assemble the team that he is confident will give America our strongest ability to restore America’s greatness. His selection of Rex Tillerson is another example of recruiting people of extraordinary skill and accomplishment. How refreshing to have people with real world success rather than simply rounding up some academics with big ideas but very small accomplishments. Think tank theorists are useful to design the craft, but to complete the mission, we need people who have actually flown the craft.”

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush:

“In the interview with WJLH, Bush also praised Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, saying the Exxon Mobile CEO has ‘vast experience.’ He called Tillerson a ‘patriot’ who will ‘represent the interests of United States really, really well. But (the Senate) will have the chance to discuss all these things in an opening hearing. That’s how the process works.’” Tampa Bay Times

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK):

“I am pleased by President-elect Trump’s announcement to nominate Rex Tillerson to be our Secretary of State,” Inhofe said. “I have known Rex for years and think he will be great for this position. He is an accomplished leader who has proven himself on the world stage as ExxonMobil’s CEO. His business acumen will provide a welcomed, fresh look at how the State Department conducts its business, and I am confident he will leverage our global leadership position to strengthen the United States and our allies around the world. I look forward to discussing my national security concerns with him and working closely with him in the coming years.”

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA):

“Mr. Tillerson has an impressive background with unique experience and extensive knowledge of working in a global environment. I congratulate Mr. Tillerson on his nomination, and I look forward to meeting with him during the confirmation process to learn more about how he views the world and America’s national interests.”

Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX):

“I commend President-Elect Trump on his nomination of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. This prominent position in the Administration is tasked with the delicate balance of working to ease tensions around the globe while also ensuring U.S. national security and a strong foreign policy agenda. Mr. Tillerson, a constituent on mine in the 26th district of Texas, has worked extensively with foreign leaders cultivating relationships that will only prove to benefit U.S. interest around the world. From the pipelines to platforms, his experience leading the global efforts of one of America’s most successful companies has equipped him with the understanding and insight to navigate the current world stage. Congratulations to Mr. Tillerson on this honorable nomination.”

Andrew Bowen, American Enterprise Institute:

“Rex Tillerson Is A Strong Choice To Be America’s Next Top Diplomat.” Newsweek

American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“Rex Tillerson is world class. He has decades of experience working with global leaders and overseeing the creation of thousands of jobs He understands that American voters want to strengthen our national security, grow jobs, and protect American interests globally.

“As our nation’s next top diplomat, Rex has the strategic experience to effectively represent the new administration and the American people. He runs one of the largest companies in the world that operates in more than 50 countries, oversees over 75,000 employees, and he has first-hand experience working on international issues. His relationships and in particular those with other nations will help further advance U.S. interests across the globe.

“We congratulate Rex on being nominated and look forward to working with him, the incoming administration, and the new Congress on common sense policies that protect the environment, create jobs, and strengthen our economy.”

Senator David Perdue (R-GA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development:

“While this may seem like a nontraditional choice, after eight years of foreign policy setbacks, we will need to make some bold changes to help re-establish American leadership and credibility around the world. Rex Tillerson has spent his career overseeing one of our nation’s largest companies and growing its presence around the world. As both a business guy and chairman of the subcommittee that oversees State Department management, I look forward to hearing from Mr. Tillerson, examining his goals for the State Department, and learning more about his perspective on the global security crisis we face today.”

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons:

“President-elect Trump has chosen an expert negotiator to run the business of American diplomacy. A great friend to the National Association of Manufacturers, Rex Tillerson has spent his life making deals and getting results; now he can put his incomparable experience, talents and connections to work on behalf of our entire country. Manufacturers are encouraged to see a leader from the manufacturing economy take on the role of America’s chief diplomat, and we are pleased that Rex will bring a business perspective to the State Department.

“Beyond his rock star business credentials, Rex has been a staunch force for the dignity and opportunity of all citizens, and will no doubt work to make our nation and our world a better place. For all of his stellar accomplishments, Rex and his wife Renda are incredibly humble, decent and relatable people of the highest character. I wish them both the best in this important endeavor, and much success in the critical work that is ahead for Rex.”

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