14:25 GMT08 May 2021
Listen Live
    Get short URL

    US President-elect Donald Trump will nominate the head of ExxonMobil Corporation, Rex Tillerson, to serve as his Secretary of State. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Nicolai Petro, professor of comparative and international politics at the University of Rhode Island.

    "He has been in the oil business all his life. He has been dealing with Russia for more than 20 years, he helped set up the production-sharing agreement on Sakhalin island. I guess that from the perspective of the current Russian administration, [Tillerson] stuck with Russia after the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. As a result, in 2011 Exxon replaced British Petroleum as Rosneft’s partner in an equity swap deal,” Nikolai Petro said.

    He added that this enabled Rosneft to drill in the Gulf of Mexico in exchange for granting drilling rights for Exxon in the Black and Kara Seas.

    “So he is a very good choice for negotiating and sticking to negotiated deals, which is something his predecessor [John Kerry] was not able to do.”

    Rex Tillerson supervised the strategy of Exxon Mobil to invest in Russia. He changed the direction of the company’s policy and made it a strategic initiative of Exxon to deal with Russia over a long period of time.

    “He can take a long term perspective on relations, not the usual four-year ideological or political agenda. He looks at Russia as being vital to global wellbeing and possibly as a strategic ally of the US over the rest of this century,” Dr. Petro noted.

    When asked about the negative sides of Mr. Tillerson’s appointment, Nikolai Petro said that “what we are going to see during the confirmation hearings in Congress is that Tillerson is a ‘friend of Putin,’ a ‘Putin understander.’ I think this is going to be portrayed during the hearings.”

    “This is the most interesting choice for Secretary of State since the Cold War. None of the previous candidates can compare to his ability to actually reach deals that are mutually beneficial. He was very conscientious in negotiating deals with the Russian government and Putin commended him as being a tough negotiator.”

    Dr. Petro said he believed that the final vote in the Senate will be very clearly in Tillerson’s favor because he enjoys the overwhelming support of the business community and  also because he has already been endorsed by three Republican Secretaries of State — Robert Gates, Condoleezza Rice and James Baker.

    “I don’t think there is anything that can possibly derail his candidacy,” Petro noted.

    He added that Trump’s Republican critics were already adjusting their rhetoric to support the policies the President-elect will be implementing.

    “Nobody wants to be left out of the Administration and ultimately it is Trump and his advisers who will decide who is going to have this access.

    When asked if he expected a thaw in US-Russian relations, Nikolai Petro said that as a Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson is someone who can reach agreements with Russia and other nations.

    “Just how exactly this will be realized, will depend on the kind of strategy, how he clarifies the strategy of the United States. He has a couple of months to work on that. In other worlds, we don’t quite know what this comprehensive strategy is going to be like, because it hasn’t been nailed down yet, but I’m encouraged by the fact that he is the man who can reach mutually beneficial agreements with Russia,” Professor Petro emphasized.

    Donald Trump's transitional team said that Rex Tillerson would "help reverse years of misguided foreign policies and actions that have weakened" the country's global standing. In his turn, Tillerson said he shared the President-elect's vision "for restoring the credibility of the United States' foreign relations and advancing our country's national security.”

    Russian officials have already welcomed the announcement, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying that the Kremlin is ready to work with any partners interested in developing equitable ties with Russia.

    Have you heard the news? Sign up to our Telegram channel and we'll keep you up to speed!


    Tillerson Could Stick to Another Line in US Foreign Policy - RAPP Head
    Tillerson May Change US Foreign Policy Towards Russia - DTAG Ex-member
    mutually-beneficial agreements, tough negotiator, good choice, appointment, Rosneft, ExxonMobil, U.S. Department of State, BP, Nikolai Petro, Rex Tillerson, Condoleezza Rice, Robert Gates, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, US
    Community standardsDiscussion