Russia gives Tillerson a dressing down, demands to know the White House’s real intentions on Syria

Russia has stepped up its stance against President Donald Trump‘s administration in the wake of last week’s military intervention in Syria, calling it “primitive” and “inconsistent.”

This came as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Moscow on Wednesday with the top U.S. diplomat receiving a barrage of criticism from a clutch of Russian officials. Ahead of a meeting with Tillerson,Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that he wanted to know what the real intentions of the U.S. administration are, following its missile strikes in Syria.

Lavrov took a tough stance on the U.S. decision to strike a Syria-government airbase last week. He explained that it is important that the U.S. doesn’t allow more military strikes in Syria, according to Reuters, adding that last week’s decision violated the law.

Lavrov also stated that Russia has lots of questions about the “ambiguous” and “contradictory” ideas coming from the U.S. administration, according to the Associated Press. The news agency also described how Russia’s top diplomat subtly mocked Tillerson for the fact that his top State department roles are currently unfilled.

But some of the harshest comments came from Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. Going one step further than Lavrov, he said: “In general, primitiveness and loutishness are very characteristic of the current rhetoric coming out of Washington. We’ll hope that this doesn’t become the substance of American policy,” Russia’s state-owned RIA news agency reported.

Escalation of words

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (right) during their talks on April 12, 2017 in Moscow, Russia.

Dmitry Korotayev | Kommersant | Getty Images
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (right) during their talks on April 12, 2017 in Moscow, Russia.

The escalation of words marks a significant shift in U.S.-Russia relations. There were prosperous signs when Trump was elected that he could strengthen such a relationship, but that seems now hard to achieve. Last week, Trump ordered a cruise missile strike after an alleged chemical attack conducted by the Syrian regime. U.S. officials have declared that Russia was complicit in the attack and have urged Moscow to realign with the West and break ties with Syria President Bashar Assad.

“As a whole, the administration’s stance with regards to Syria remains a mystery. Inconsistency is what comes to mind first of all,” Ryabkov added on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Tillerson told reporters that Wednesday’s meeting aimed at clarifying the positions of both the U.S. and Russia when it comes to the six-year war in Syrian. Tillerson could also meet with Russia President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Reuters reported, citing a Kremlin spokesperson.

In a TV interview aired Wednesday, Putin said the relationship with the United States has deteriorated since Trump took office.

“One could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved, but rather has deteriorated,” Putin said, according to translated remarks by the Kremlin.

Putin added that Syria had given up its chemical weapons stocks, Reuters also reported.

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