“I want to turn to Russia next and the relationship, as you know, on Russia continues to be under considerable stress. As I indicated in my first trip to Moscow, and meetings at the Kremlin with President Putin following those meetings, the relationship was at a historic low since the end of the Cold War and it could get worse. And the question, I think, of the events of the last week or so is: Is it getting worse or can we maintain some level of stability in that relationship, and continue to find ways to address areas of mutual interest and ways in which we can deal with our differences without those becoming open conflicts as well?,” Tillerson said.
In the Ukraine, we have been very consistent in our messages to Russia that the Minsk accords must be achieved, they must be implemented, otherwise nothing can be done about the sanction situation in Ukraine. As you’re aware, we’ve appointed a special representative to Ukraine, former Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker. Kurt’s a very experienced ambassador, diplomat to the area. He knows the area well, he knows Russia well, he certainly knows our partners well, and he’s very clear-eyed about his mission to see if we cannot engage to move the process in Ukraine forward. It has been stalled, as you know, for quite some time. This announcement has been welcomed both by the Russians and it’s been welcomed by the Normandy group that has been engaged with Russia in an effort to move these discussions forward. So we are hopeful we can make some progress in beginning to move the situation in Ukraine to a place of engagement and movement towards achieving a true ceasefire, because the outbreak in violence this year has been just heartbreaking to watch in east Ukraine.
“I will be meeting face to face with Foreign Minister Lavrov this weekend on the – on the margins of the meetings in Manila. We – he and I have already spoken. I would say our conversation following the actions has been professional. There’s no – there’s been no belligerence. I think Foreign Minister Lavrov and I understand our roles. We understand our responsibilities. And I think he’s as committed as I am to trying to find ways that we can bring this relationship back closer towards one another,” he said.
It is also reported that Tillerson will travel to Manila, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur August 5 – 9. In Manila, he will participate in the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit Ministerial, the U.S.-ASEAN Ministerial, and the Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial. During these meetings, Secretary Tillerson will meet with his counterparts and discuss a range of issues including the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maritime security, and counterterrorism.
As it was reported earlier US Vice President Mike Pence names conditions for improving relations with Russia and lifting sanctions. A better relationship and the lifting of sanctions will require Russia to reverse the actions that caused sanctions to be imposed in the first place, he said.