As expected, the Kremlin did not respond kindly to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's no holds barred op-ed in The New York Times Wednesday. In the piece, entitled, "I Am Proud of Our Diplomacy," Tillerson condemns Russia for undermining U.S. elections and worsening relations between the two countries.
On Russia, we have no illusions about the regime we are dealing with. The United States today has a poor relationship with a resurgent Russia that has invaded its neighbors Georgia and Ukraine in the last decade and undermined the sovereignty of Western nations by meddling in our election and others’. The appointment of Kurt Volker, a former NATO ambassador, as special representative for Ukraine reflects our commitment to restoring the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Absent a peaceful resolution of the Ukraine situation, which must begin with Russia’s adherence to the Minsk agreements, there cannot be business as usual with Russia. (New York Times)
Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for Russia's Foreign Ministry, accused Tillerson of using "a language of coercion," according to CNN's Fred Pleitgen, who was reporting from Moscow. The op-ed was "confrontational" and "fake news," other Russian spokesmen noted.
Still, in his op-ed Tillerson noted that the two countries must try and find common ground on sensitive situations like Syria, since the two share "mutual interests" in the outcome. Why not work together to remove Bashar al-Assad from power?
Pleitgen reached out to Russia for a comment on Tillerson's suggestion the two governments could work together on a Syria solution. They told him no way.
"As far as the Russians are concerned, there is no cooperation" there, Pleitgen reported.
Tillerson did not just single out Russia in his op-ed. He also had plenty to say about North Korean aggression, China’s "troubling military activities in the South China Sea," and Pakistan's thus far lackluster effort in helping defeat terrorism.