He told the Senate confirmation hearing that Russian tempering reports by the intelligence were “clearly troubling.”
The comments came after he was pushed by Senator Marco Rubio to admit Putin’s role in the cyber-breach.
Mr. Tillerson has had good ties with Russia, which alarmed some people in the U.S.
When pressed by Mr. Rubio to answer whether the hacking reports were accurate and Putin directed them or not, Tillerson said that he didn’t have any inside information on the detailed intelligence, but he did read the declassified report last week. The Florida Senator then suggested that Putin was responsible for war crimes in Aleppo (Syria), but Mr. Tillerson said that he could not call Mr. Putin a war criminal because these are “very, very serious charges” and he would need more information to reach such a conclusion. Senator Marco Rubio had earlier said that he was “seriously concerned” about Mr. Tillerson as the top diplomat.
The former CEO of Exxon Mobil said earlier during the hearing that Russia has been emboldened by the lack of American leadership. He also added that “Russia poses a threat, ” but an “open and frank dialogue” was needed.
Here are some of the points the nominee made:-
- America’s top priority should be to defeat Islamic State group in the Middle East.
- International norms and old agreed ideas which were well-understood and governed behaviors may no longer be applicable in our time.
- In global trade, China has emerged as an economic power, and some of the bilateral interactions have been adversarial.
- North Korea and Iran pose a threat to the world because of their denial to conform to international norms.
Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has raised tough questions to the Texan multimillionaire on Wednesday.
He warned Americans in the statement released earlier that we “should be clear-eyed about our relationship with Russia.” Here is the full statement:
“Russia today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests. 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, but it was in the absence of American leadership that this door was left open and unintended signals were sent. We backtracked on commitments we made to allies. We sent weak or mixed signals with ‘red lines’ that turned into green lights. We did not recognize that Russia does not think like we do.”
At the same time, he also urged for open and frank dialogue with Russia. Mr. Tillerson’s personal connections with Russia has drawn the most flak in the last couple of months. He signed a multi-billion-dollar deal with Rosneft, Russia’s state oil company, has spoken against international sanctions on Russia and he was awarded an Order of Friendship by Russia in 2013.