During his Jan. 11 confirmation hearing, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson admitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he has yet to discuss with President-elect Trump U.S. foreign policy as it regards to Russia.
He also made a statement that seemed in partial opposition to the use of sanctions against Russia and other countries, stating that they “are going to harm American businesses.” However, he relented to the idea that sanctions have the ability to be a “powerful and important tool.”
“We aren’t likely to ever be friends … our value systems are starkly different,” Tillerson said about Russia’s relationship to the U.S., distancing himself from Trump’s often pleasant language concerning a nation that is believed by many to have intentionally interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential election through hacking and was slow to support aid from the United Nations for Aleppo.
“[Russia] has invaded Ukraine, including the taking of Crimea, and supported Syrian forces that brutally violate the laws of war,” said Tillerson in his opening statement for the confirmation hearing.
“But it was in the absence of American leadership that this door was left open and unintended signals were sent. We backtracked on commitments we made to allies. We sent weak or mixed signals with 'red lines' that turned into green lights. We did not recognize that Russia does not think like we do. Words alone do not sweep away an uneven and at times contentious history between our two nations. But we need an open and frank dialogue with Russia regarding its ambitions, so that we know how to chart our own course.”
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