Tillerson calls Russia 'an adversary' in US Senate hearing

Tillerson calls Russia 'an adversary' in US Senate hearing
  1. Tillerson calls Russia 'an adversary' in US Senate hearing
    Rex Tillerson, who's slated to be the next US Secretary of State, told his confirmation hearing that Washington needs to redefine its relationship with Moscow. The former-Exxon Mobil boss was given a nine-hour…
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In his opening statement, Rex Tillerson, a former Exxon Mobil CEO with close business ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that Russia's "recent activities have disregarded American interests," in reference to the country's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its military intervention in Syria a little over a year ago.

But Tillerson, who was awarded the Order of Friendship by Putin several years ago, declined to directly address in his opening statement allegations that Russian hackers had intervened in the US presidential election.

Throughout the hearing, senators frequently turned to questions concerning Tillerson's views on Russia. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who ran against the president-elect in the primary election, grilled the ex-oil boss on Russia's involvement in Syria and other parts of the world. At one point, Rubio asked Tillerson if he thought Putin was a "war criminal."

"I would not use that term," Tillerson responded.

USA Befragung Senat - Rex Tillerson, designierter Außenminister (Reuters/J. Ernst)

Tillerson was grilled by Senator Marco Rubio during the hearing

Tough talk on Ukraine

Instead, Tillerson emphasized the need for a different approach to dealing with Putin and declined to say whether he supported the sanctions leveled against Moscow in the wake of the hacking allegations. However, he also said he had no reason to doubt intelligence reports suggesting that hacking did occur.

At one point, Tillerson admitted that he hadn't yet spoken to Trump regarding a policy concerning Russia, saying "that has not yet occurred."

Tillerson did make a clear break from Trump in his thoughts on Ukraine. "Russia, today, poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests," he said, criticizing US President Barack Obama's "very weak response" to Crimea. He said he "would have recommended that Ukraine take all of the military assets that it had available" and put them along the eastern border.

Aside from Russia, Tillerson also touched upon other issues, including China, terrorism and normalized relations with Cuba. He also acknowledged "risks"…

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