Tillerson meets Putin amid ‘low point’ in US-Russia ties

World Today

The U.S. said relations with Russia are at a ‘low point,’ but both countries said they are willing to improve ties.

This comes as U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, visited Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart, and a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

Last week’s U.S. strike on a Syrian air base dominated talks, with both sides still not seeing eye-to-eye.

CGTN’s Julia Lyubova reports.

Tillerson meets Putin amid ‘low point’ in US-Russia ties

The U.S. said relations with Russia are at a ‘low point,’ but both countries said they are willing to improve ties. This comes as U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, visited Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart, and a meeting with President Vladimir Putin. Last week’s U.S. strike on a Syrian air base dominated talks, with both sides still not seeing eye-to-eye. CGTN’s Julia Lyubova reports.

Despite rolling out a red carpet for the U.S. Secretary of State upon his arrival in Moscow, the Kremlin delivered a frosty reception to Rex Tillerson in a face-off over Syria. Moscow insists that an “unbiased” international investigation is needed to establish who carried out the chemical attack in Syria on April 4.

“We need concrete evidence on Russia hacks and chemical attacks. Right now just words, not facts,” said Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister.

After initially declining a meeting between Rex Tillerson and Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin agreed to it at the last minute. Lavrov said the meeting between Tillerson and Putin lasted for over two hours.

Tillerson said the U.S. has conclusive evidence that the Syrian government planned and executed the chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun that left at least 89 people dead. The Syrian government denies this.

“What we do know- and we have very firm and high confidence in our conclusions- that the attack was carried out and planned by the regime forces at the direction of al-Assad,” Tillerson said.

Moscow signaled its continuing support for the Syrian government Tuesday when Putin said he expected more ‘provocations’ were being planned by rebel forces, looking to make future chemical attacks appear carried out by Damascus. He offered no proof to back his claims.

Russia has been defending Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying that there’s no evidence that the Syrian government was behind the chemical attack. Instead, Moscow maintains the Syrian army hit a rebel depot containing chemical weapons.

The two sides spoke of the low-level of trust between them and the U.S., noting it’s an unacceptable state of strain between the world’s two biggest nuclear powers. In one small positive note, both sides said a working group at the foreign ministry level will be established, with hopes of improving ties.


Ivan Eland discusses US-Russia relations and NATO

For more on U.S.-Russia relationship and NATO, CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke with Ivan Eland, senior fellow and director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute.