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    How Tillerson's Words About Relations With Russia Can 'Pull Trump Out of Trap'

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    On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the Senate Appropriations Committee that every US ally and partner has been calling on Washington to improve its relations with Russia. Political analyst Yuri Rogulev commented on how this remark could help President Trump amid discussions of new anti-Russian sanctions.

    "I have yet to have a bilateral, one-on-one, a poolside conversation with a single counterpart in any country: in Europe, the Middle East, even South-East Asia, that has not said to me: please, address your relationship with Russia, it has to be improved," Tillerson said on Tuesday during testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Foreign Operations.

    The US State Secretary added that the countries urging the US to review its Russian policy “believe worsening this relationship will ultimately worsen their situation.”

    "People have been imploring me to engage and try to improve the situation, so, that was our approach anyway," he added.

    Yuri Rogulev, director of Moscow University’s Roosevelt Fund for US Studies, commented to Sputnik Radio on the remark, calling it quite an unexpected move.

    "I think this remark came as a surprise to the senators, as he presented it as a collective opinion of all the US' allies and not just the administration of President Trump," he told Sputnik.

    The expert said that while Tillerson repeated his characterization of the US-Russian relationship as being at an all-time low, such a remark signified a need of its improvement from the US side.

    He also noted that the remark comes amid discussions of new sanctions against Russia.

    According to an official statement by the US Senate released on Monday, several US senators reached a bipartisan agreement on legislation to expand sanctions against Russian entities over allegedly "conducting malicious cyber activity on behalf of the Russian government" and supplying weapons to the Syrian authorities. The agreement also provides for Congress to have more power to review any decisions by Trump to ease the existing sanctions.

    The terms on new Russian sanctions are expected to be added to another, rather unrelated, bill on Iran, which imposes sanctions over ballistic missile testing.

    The US Congress is also reviewing whether President Trump and his associates had any role in Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 elections.

    Yuri Rogulev suggested how Tillerson's remark could assist the US President.

    "It may have a certain impact on the plans of those senators who are standing on anti-Russian positions but cover their calls for more anti-Russian sanctions with the claims that thus they are helping out the President. They claim that if he agrees to anti-Russian measures, then all the accusation of his ties with Russia will automatically be dropped. This is a trick, a trap the President is being lured to," he told Sputnik.

    The expert further suggested that Tillerson's remark will have a certain impact on this situation. However it still remains to be seen how efficient it will be. Rogulev is nevertheless sure that not all the senators support the anti-Russian group, which is led by senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain and other opponents of the rapprochement with Russia.

    Tags:
    anti-Russian sanctions, US Senate, Yuri Rogulev, Donald Trump, Rex Tillerson, Russia, United States
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