US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has slammed Russia’s “malicious tactics” during his foreign policy speech on US relations with Europe. He described Russia as one of the “major challenges” facing Europe and the US.
Tillerson pledged that sanctions against Russia will remain in place until it helps restore peace in Ukraine. He also alleged that Russia seeks to define a new post-Soviet global balance of power, where it seeks to impose its will on others by virtue of its nuclear arsenal.
“But Russia has often employed malicious tactics against the US and Europe to drive us apart, weaken our confidence, and undermine the political and economic successes that we have achieved together since the end of the Cold War,” Tillerson said.
“Playing politics with energy supplies, launching cyber- attacks and disinformation campaigns to undermine free elections, and serially harassing and intimidating diplomats are not the behaviours of a responsible nation,” he added.
Europe and the United States seek a normalised relationship with Russia, he said.
Tillerson then went on to say that the US wanted Russia to be a “constructive neighbour” of Europe and the larger transatlantic community.
He also issued a stern warning to Kremlin.
Russia could choose whether to continue to isolate and impoverish itself by sowing disorder abroad and impeding liberty at home, or become a force that will advance the freedom of Russians and the stability of Eurasia,” warned Tillerson.
Tillerson also alleged how Russia partnered with regimes that show a disregard for their own citizens. He mentioned Bashar al-Assad’s continuous use of chemical weapons against his own people.
But Tillerson also called for increased cooperation with Russia in Syria to defeat the so-called Islamic State.
“We’re working hard in Syria to defeat ISIS and we are on the cusp of having ISIS once and for all defeated in Syria… We are working together with Russia on how to prevent the civil war from re-erupting in Syria…We think there are areas of greater cooperation on counterterrorism with Russia. There may be opportunities for cooperation in Afghanistan. We’ve not yet come to what that might be, but we’re talking about it,” he said.
Tillerson also urged Europe to join the US in countering Iran and North Korea.
“Neither the US nor Europe wants another type of North Korea nuclear threat on its hands, nor are any of our nations at ease with Iran’s attempts at hegemony in the Middle East through support for terrorist organisations, militias on the ground in Iraq and Syria, and an active ballistic missile development program,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)