The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that Washington will confront Russia’s “aggression” against its European neighbors and has vowed to help Europe wean itself off Russian oil and gas.
Tillerson claimed thar Russia’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 said in his speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, aimed at reassuring European allies about America’s commitment to security on the continent.
He said US money and know how would help Croatia and Poland build liquefied natural gas terminals and Greece and Bulgaria lay a pipeline. “The Ukraine crisis also made clear how energy supplies can be wielded as a political weapon,” he warned, vowing to help prevent big suppliers like Russia from “extorting” clients in Europe.
Press TV reports:
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.