Tillerson To Go After Russia, Pledge To Hold Allies Accountable

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson is slated to deliver a forceful opening statement against U.S. adversaries during his secretary of state confirmation hearing Wednesday.

Tillerson’s stance on Russia is of particular interest, after widespread condemnation by members of the media for his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. As Exxon CEO, Tillerson struck major energy deals with Russia and publicly opposed sanctions on Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea.

Tillerson seemingly bucks these notions in his statement, saying Russia’s “recent activities have disregarded American interests.” Tillerson continues, “Russia today poses a danger,” adding “It has invaded Ukraine, including the taking of Crimea, and supported Syrian forces that brutally violate the laws of war. Our NATO allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent Russia.”

Tillerson’s first paragraph addressing threats also goes after China, North Korea, Iran, and radical islam. His statement lays blame at the proliferation of threats at the feet of the outgoing Obama administration. “we have cast American leadership into doubt. In some instances, we have withdrawn from the world,” He declares.

Beyond highlighting the threats Tillerson sees to the U.S., he highlights one of Trump’s central campaign promises to hold U.S. allies accountable. Trump repeatedly expressed his ire at other members of the NATO alliance who do not uphold their commitments to defense spending, despite being obligated too.

He elaborates, “We cannot look the other way at allies who do not meet their obligations; this is an injustice not only to us, but to longstanding friends who honor their promises and bolster our own national security.”

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