For Trump, the grievances inherited from Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have been compounded by Russian-backed Syria’s chemical weapons attacks, retaliatory USA missile strikes, election meddling allegations and Ukraine’s unsolved crisis.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council: “We want to work with Russian Federation to advance a political process in Syria”. Trump later praised Tillerson for doing a “terrific job” in Moscow, even though relations between the two countries possibly being “at an all-time low”. Tillerson conceded the two world powers had “sharp differences” that have obstructed cooperation but voiced optimism that their talks could narrow those differences.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said an alleged poison gas attack blamed on his government last week in Idlib province was “100 percent fabrication”, news agency AFP reported on Thursday. “There hasn’t been a single fact, although under the pressure of President Donald Trump’s foes the White House has been forced to periodically make statements containing unfounded accusations against us”.
Trump and Xi spoke again by phone Tuesday evening, and by Wednesday, China – a member of the United Nations Security Council – opted to abstain rather than join Russian Federation in blocking the U.N. condemnation of Syria for its use last week of chemical weapons against civilians.
Last week’s poison gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the rebel-held province of Idlib near the Turkish border was the most lethal since a sarin attack on August 21, 2013 killed hundreds in a rebel-controlled suburb of the capital Damascus.
Russian Federation hasn’t seen “a single fact, or even a hint of fact” to back up the allegations of meddling, Lavrov said. He said Assad’s government was responsible.
“The sides had been conducting themselves as if they owed each other”, Alexander Baunov of the Carnegie Moscow Center was quoted as saying by The Guardian newspaper.
Further muddling the outlook, Trump said later on April 12 that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was now doing more to fight terrorism and was “no longer obsolete”, a shift from previous statements that the security alliance no longer served a goal and a move that is sure to antagonize Russian Federation.
Lavrov had greeted Tillerson with unusually icy remarks, denouncing the missile strike on Syria as illegal and accusing Washington of behaving unpredictably. The United States even went so far as to accuse Russian Federation of covering up the attack on Assad’s behalf, a day before the scheduled visit.
Lavrov cited United States efforts to remove dictators in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya, and to divide Sudan, where an ethnic conflict had spiraled into genocide. “We know the ending of it way too well”. Lavrov said. “I don’t remember any case of a dictator being removed smoothly, without violence”.
He said the USA attack on the Syrian air base “was carried out in violation of worldwide norms”. “Also, we had held talks in the Kremlin before that”, Lavrov said. Tillerson did not provide any public assurances.
Russian Federation wants the United States and European Union to lift damaging economic sanctions imposed to punish Russian Federation for seizing Ukraine’s Crimea province in 2014, and to pressure it to end its role in a conflict that has resulted in about 10,000 Ukrainian deaths.
Tillerson offered no satisfaction on that front. “But I do think it’s going to happen at a certain point”, Trump said. We’re a very, very strong country.
But the civil war in Syria has driven a wedge between Moscow and Washington, upending what many in Russian Federation hoped would be a transformation in relations, which reached a post-Cold War low under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. Russia wants the U.S.to eliminate sanctions on Moscow related to its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. It was stark evidence that the president is moving ever further from his campaign promises to establish better ties with Moscow.