Tillerson Asks Diplomats Why Americans Should Care About Ukraine
- Author: Tracy Ferguson Apr 13, 2017,
Apr 13, 2017, 1:02
President Donald Trump had hinted he would be less interventionist than his predecessors and more willing to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses if it was in US interests.
In a bit of uncommon frankness, especially for a diplomatic gathering, Tillerson wondered aloud to his fellow foreign ministers: "Why should US taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?".
Mr Johnson said Mr Tillerson would offer a "re-set" of relations between Moscow and the West, with an opportunity for the Russians to join the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State.
The G-7 blames Assad's military for a deadly chemical attack last week that killed more than 80 people.
US officials previously have said Russians routinely work with Syrians at the Shayrat air base where the attack is supposed to have originated. Then the North Atlantic Treaty Organization expanded eastward, the USA bombed Russia's ally Yugoslavia and relations got sticky.
"These agreements stipulated Russian Federation as the guarantor of a Syria free of chemical weapons", Tillerson said.
On Monday, the former oilman-turned-diplomat visited the site of a World War Two Nazi massacre in Italy and said the United States would never let such abuses go unchallenged.
Thomas told reporters at the Pentagon that the increased emphasis on defensive measures to protect USA troops on the ground in Syria led to a slight and temporary decline in offensive us airstrikes against IS in Syria.
The Group of Seven industrialized nations on Tuesday urged Russian Federation to pressure the Syrian government to end the six-year civil war, but rejected a British call to impose new sanctions on Moscow over its support of President Bashar Assad. Earlier, U.S. military officials had said they were looking into whether Russian Federation participated, possibly by using a drone to help eliminate evidence afterward.
But he also laid down an ultimatum for Russian Federation, saying that Moscow must think about whether to remain an ally with the Assad regime, the Iranians and Hezbollah.
The G-7 meeting comes as the United States is sending a Navy carrier strike group toward the Korean Peninsula to provide a physical presence following North Korea's persistent ballistic missile tests.
The Syrian opposition will take some heart from the US strikes and hope for more USA action. "Syria has risen to the top of the agenda. and a very different kind of conversation is going to be taking place", Vershbow told NPR.
US and Western officials believe Shayrat was the launching site of a chemical attack conducted by forces loyal to Assad's government April 5. "It is obvious that Russian-American relations are going through the most hard period since the end of the Cold War", the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
Ukraine's foreign ministry also welcomed the communique released at the end of the two-day G7 Energy Ministers' meeting on Monday and Tuesday. The United States and its allies are conducting air strikes in Syria against Islamic State, but until last week Washington had avoided targeting forces of Assad's government directly.
Around 10,000 people have died in eastern Ukraine since the military conflict broke out in Ukraine in spring 2014.
The flipside of the talk about sanctions from Johnson and other diplomats is an implicit promise that Moscow could be allowed to rejoin the G-8, if it drops its support for Assad. It's unclear how much that agenda has narrowed - but it is quite clear the missile strike is already casting its shadow across the meeting.
His decision drew taunts from opponents that Johnson was a "poodle" of the Americans who had been told to stay home so he would not upstage Tillerson.
Five days before the Khan Sheikhoun attack, Haley had indicated the United States had ditched the Obama administration's policy of removing Assad.
"Countries that have been supportive of the Assad regime bear some of the responsibility for the chemical attacks on innocents", he said. Only a week ago, top Trump officials had spoken off deprioritizing past USA efforts to remove Assad from office and accepting the "reality" that 18 months of Russian military intervention had secured him in power.
Among European nations, there are also differences.
The United States has sought to minimize expectations for the trip or the likelihood that the U.S. will leave with any concessions from Russian Federation regarding its support for Assad.