President-elect Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he’s chosen Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state and Russian president Vladimir Putin Russian couldn’t be happier.
Tillerson was selected by President-elect Donald Trump as Secretary of State on Monday night, his transition team confirmed. Tillerson, whom Trump called a “world class player” during a Fox News Sunday interview, has maintained close ties with Russia and was awarded the Order of Friendship in 2013 by Putin, an honor for a foreign citizen, The Huffington Post reported.
Tillerson “has actively assisted business cooperation” and is known to many Russian officials. AFP also reported that Putin has “close relationship” with the new U.S. Secretary of State, along with many other Russian officials, according to Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov.
Ushakov said Tillerson, who’s been Exxon’s CEO since 2006, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin “several times” prior to his nomination.
According to The New York Times, Exxon has billions of dollars in oil deals that can only go through if the U.S. lifts sanctions against Russia that aim to pressure the country for its actions in eastern Ukraine.
Tillerson is an opponent of U.S. sanctions on the Russian regime after its annexation of Crimea and involvement in Eastern Ukraine. He spoke against the sanctions at Exxon’ 2014 annual meeting.
“We do not support sanctions, generally, because we don’t find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented comprehensibly, and that’s a very hard thing to do,” Tillerson said. “So we always encourage the people who are making those decisions to consider the very broad collateral damage of who are they really harming.”
The 40-year CEO of the energy giant, Tillerson is the first person in at least a century to be elevated to the post of Secretary of State without prior government experience. He appears to share Trump’s desire to lift sanctions on the Russian federation.