dglobalnews.com Putin says trust erodes under Trump, Moscow icily receives Tillerson
Published: Fri, April 14, 2017
Global Media | By Cecelia Webb

Putin says trust erodes under Trump, Moscow icily receives Tillerson

Putin says trust erodes under Trump, Moscow icily receives Tillerson

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday met US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after complaining of worsening ties with Donald Trump's administration as the two sides spar over Syria.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, called on Moscow to stop protecting Assad and said the United States wants to work with Russian Federation toward a political solution for Syria.

Putin, whom US intelligence agencies say tried to help Trump get elected, insisted that relations with the USA had only gone downhill since Trump took office in January.

It would be naïve to interpret the US strike in Syria as a substantial policy change, since Trump's overall Syria policy has not been revealed yet.

But Russia, an ally of Syria, blocked a draft UN Security Council resolution which would require President Assad to provide information about air operations and grant inspectors immediate access to air bases.

Before meeting Putin, Tillerson received a chilly reception from Lavrov, who told Tillerson that Russian Federation was trying to understand the "real intentions" of the Trump administration.

"The level of trust at the working level, especially at the military level, has not become better but most likely has degraded", Putin said in an interview broadcast Wednesday by state television channel Mir.

Lavrov doubled down on Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, repeating denials that Assad's government was to blame for the gas attack, instead saying it may have been faked by Assad's enemies. Tillerson's mission sees the Trump administration taking on the traditional US role as spokesman for a unified Western position.

"We discussed our view that Russian Federation as their closest ally in the conflict perhaps has the best means of helping Assad recognise this reality", he said. And he suggested that possible war crimes charges could be levied against the Syrian leader.

One of Lavrov's deputies was even more undiplomatic.

Lavrov said Wednesday that Moscow hasn't seen "a single fact, or even a hint at facts" proving the USA allegations of Russian interference.

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Neverthless, Lavrov said that he believes that Tillerson's visit has "come at the right time", to frankly and honestly discuss the outlook for cooperation on these issues, "primarily the creation of a broad counterterrorism coalition, as President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump have agreed to do".

"There is a low level of trust between our two countries". "The world's two foremost nuclear powers can not can not have this kind of relationship".

Russian Federation has slammed Washington's attack on a Syrian airbase and, as Tillerson met Lavrov, Putin admitted that relations have worsened in the three months that Trump has been in office.

In an interview with the Fox Business Network, Trump said he was not planning to order US forces into Syria, but that he had to respond to the images of dead children poisoned in the gas attack.

Responding to a question about President Trump's referring to Assad as an "animal" and the White House spokesman Sean Spicer comparing him to Adolf Hitler, Tillerson said characterization is deserved. The Syrian people "have suffered six years of ever-escalating barbarity, over six years of failed ceasefires, and over the years, Russian Federation has held us ransom for the Assad regime".

"And of course, that's not to mention that apart from the statements, we observed very recently the extremely worrying actions, when an illegal attack against Syria was undertaken". But Tillerson repeated the administration's new belief that "the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end".

"Are we insisting on it? No. I think it's very bad for mankind".

Since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, there has been conclusive evidence that chemical weapons have been used against civilians at different times and locations. After this - the deadliest chemical attack so far - the US and Russian Federation agreed on a Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons, which was immediately accepted by the regime.

Moscow has strenuously objected to Trump's decision to launch 59 U.S. Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base that the U.S. says was used to pummel civilians with nerve gas, resulting in 87 deaths. He added that Moscow and Washington understand each other better after the talks.

Russia's United Nations deputy envoy Vladimir Safronkov rejected the Western draft resolution, saying it "appointed the guilty party prior to an independent and objective investigation".

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