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Russian Federation ties may be at an all-time low, admits Donald Trump

21 April 2017, 12:33 | Darin Griffith

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that relations with Moscow are at a low point after meetings in Russian Federation that seemed to do little to bridge a deepening diplomatic divide over a chemical attack in Syria.

His comments came moments before President Donald Trump said relations with Russian Federation had reached a "all-time low". "Russian relationship from this point forward".

The immediate dispute between Moscow and Washington involves how the April 4 chemical weapons attack in Syria occurred. "And it was very, very successfully done", the US President said at a joint press conference with visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House.

They also spoke on the role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's future, United States actions in the Middle East and Russian involvement in the U.S. election. "We want an honest investigation".

Russia's top diplomat said Moscow would not "shield anyone" responsible for the attack.

At the news conference after the Putin meeting, Tillerson reiterated the US position that Assad's regime was responsible for the chemical attack. Tillerson conceded the two world powers had "sharp differences" that have obstructed cooperation but voiced optimism that their talks could narrow those differences. The Russian president once gave the then-CEO the Kremlin's Order of Friendship award, but the climate has cooled considerably since then.

Adding further fuel to rising tensions: the White House's move to circulate declassified USA intelligence accusing Moscow of aiding Assad's government in covering up the chemical attack.

"We have seen very alarming actions recently with an unlawful attack against Syria", Lavrov said, referring to the 59 Tomahawk missiles Trump launched at an air base to punish Assad for using chemical weapons. "That's a butcher", Donald Trump said.

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The U.S. cruise missile attack on a Syrian air base last week escalated tensions in the Syrian conflict, now in its seventh year, Lavrov said.

USA criminal investigators and members of both congressional intelligence committees are studying last year's Russian hacking into computers at Democratic Party headquarters and the eventual release of emails by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks that were seen as embarrassing Trump's challenger for the presidency, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The FBI is probing whether Trump's staff engaged in criminal collusion with Russian officials to boost Trump's election chances.

Tillerson said, "We need to attempt to put an end to this steady degradation, which is doing nothing to restore the trust between our two countries or to make progress on the issues of the greatest importance to both of us".

The dim view of U.S. The U.S. intelligence community has concluded Moscow attempted to influence the election in Trump's favor. -Russian relations since Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea. President Putin, in his interview on Russian television stated, "One could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved, but rather has deteriorated".

The parallels have not gone unnoticed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as United States officials have accused his military of knowing about Assad's recent chemical weapons attack ahead of time and trying to help cover it up.

"Our policy is consistent and it's formulated exclusively on the basis of global law and not under the impact of current opportunistic motives or false choice: 'You are with us or against us, '" Lavrov told Tillerson. "That is an obvious fact".

It came days after Chinese leader Xi Jinping held his first meeting with President Donald Trump at a summit in Florida last week. As the Federal Bureau of Investigation and multiple congressional committees investigate possible collusion between Russian Federation and Trump's campaign, the president and his aides can now point to his hard-line stance on Syrian President Bashar Assad as evidence he's willing to stand up to Putin.

"What I did should have been done by the Obama administration a long time before I did it, and you would have had a much better - I think Syria would be a lot better off right now than it has been", he said.



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