The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has sent a message to Moscow, saying Washington will confront Russia’s “aggression” against its European neighbors.
Speaking at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington on Tuesday, Tillerson claimed Moscow’s cyberattacks, energy policy and actions in Ukraine “are not the behaviors of a responsible nation.”
“We will not stand for this violation of international norms,” he noted in his speech aimed at reassuring European allies about the US commitment to security on the continent.
Tillerson said he had warned Moscow that relations with Washington would never be normal unless Russia withdrew its forces from neighboring Ukraine.
The US and its allies have levied broad economic sanctions against Russia over its alleged support for pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine and Moscow’s reunification with Crimea after a referendum in 2014.
The United States
has deployed a contingent of troops to Eastern Europe near Russia’s border since 2014. The deployments have been supplemented by four NATO battle groups of more than 1,000 soldiers.
Tillerson also claimed that Russia employs various “malicious tactics” from using disinformation campaigns and cyber-attacks to undercutting US and European democracies, to the “serial” harassing of diplomatic personnel, including US Embassy employees in Moscow.
“Russia can continue to isolate and impoverish itself by sowing disorder abroad and impeding liberty at home, or it can become a force that will advance the freedom of Russians and the stability of Eurasia,” Tillerson said.
He also said that there was still an imminent threat after the Cold War, adding that Russia sought “to define a new post-Soviet global balance of power.”
Russia “seeks to impose its will on others by force” either “by virtue of its nuclear arsenal” or by partnering with the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, Tillerson claimed.
The US accuses Moscow of meddling in Syria. Russia has been helping Damascus fight Daesh terrorists at the request of the Syrian government.
Tillerson’s remarks came despite President Donald Trump’s repeated calls for warmer relations with Moscow which has been accused of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller as well as the Senate and House intelligence committees have been investigating the alleged interference and any possible links between the associates of Trump and Moscow.