Rex Tillerson's Visit to Moscow

Posted April 17, 2017

Vladimir Putin says trust has eroded between the USA and Russian Federation under President Donald Trump, as Moscow delivers an unusually hostile reception to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a face-off over Syria.

During the meeting, 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 last week and adding a new theory that the attack may have been faked by Assad's enemies.

"We insist on conducting a thorough, objective, and unbiased investigation into the circumstances of the use of chemicals in Khan Sheikhun on April 4", Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

It was the eighth time during Syria's six-year-old civil war that Moscow has used its veto power on the Security Council to shield Assad's government.

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It was Assad's first since the alleged April 4 chemical weapons attack prompted a U.S. cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base.

"As far as the argument that the U.S. has inconvertible evidence that we intervened in the U.S. Presidential campaign, I have to say once again that not a single fact has been confirmed".

Russian Federation is also denying any involvement in U.S. election hacking.

Mr Lavrov said Russian Federation "saw some very troubling actions regarding the attack on Syria". Tillerson called for Assad to eventually relinquish power.

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It appears that Russian Federation felt stung by the USA attack on Syria and no amount of U.S. convincing can convince Moscow that Damascus planned and executed the chemical attack.

Earlier on Wednesday Tillerson had a similar tone after an nearly two-hour meeting with Putin, saying the two countries had reached a "low point" in relations.

France, Britain and the United States have accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of carrying out the attack that killed at least 87 civilians, including 31 children.

Russian Federation has staunchly backed Assad's government throughout a civil war that has dragged into a seventh year. But that one would have condemned the US missile strikes ordered by President Donald Trump in response to the chemical attack.

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Mr Putin's decision to host Mr Tillerson signalled Moscow's intent to maintain communication with the United States even as the countries bash each other publicly in louder and louder tones.