In another sign that the Trump administration favors Russia over our closest allies, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to skip an April 5-6 meeting of NATO foreign ministers. Instead, Tillerson will travel to Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin, U.S. officials said on Monday.
Tillerson will miss what would be his first meeting in Brussels with the 28 NATO members. The move has alarmed U.S. allies who see the step as putting Moscow’s concerns ahead of theirs, Reuters reported.
Trump has often praised Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, and Tillerson worked with Russia’s government for years as a top executive at Exxon Mobil Corp, and has questioned the wisdom of sanctions against Russia that he said could harm U.S. businesses.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner had no immediate comment on whether Tillerson would skip the NATO meeting or visit Russia. Two U.S. officials said Tillerson planned to visit Moscow on April 12.
“[This] feeds this narrative that somehow the Trump administration is playing footsy with Russia,” said one former U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“You don’t want to do your early business with the world’s great autocrats. You want to start with the great democracies, and NATO is the security instrument of the transatlantic group of great democracies,” he added.
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