Tillerson Has 'Productive Meeting' with Russian Counterpart on First Trip

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov today in Germany on his first trip to a G20 ministerial.

Tillerson’s remarks after the sit-down were brief, as he noted he and Lavrov “had a productive meeting and we discussed a range of issues of mutual concern.”

“As I made clear in my Senate confirmation hearing, the United States will consider working with Russia where we can find areas of practical cooperation that will benefit the American people,” Tillerson said.

“Where we do not see eye to eye, the United States will stand up for the interests and values of America and her allies. As we search for new common ground, we expect Russia to honor its commitment to the Minsk agreements and work to de-escalate the violence in the Ukraine.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova declared Wednesday, “We’re not returning our territory. Crimea is part of the Russian Federation.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, while insisting at Tuesday’s briefing that President Trump “has been incredibly tough on Russia,” noted how UN Ambassador Nikki Haley “stood before the U.N. Security Council on her first day and strongly denounced the Russian occupation of Crimea.”

“President Trump has made it very clear he expects the Russian government to de-escalate violence in the Ukraine and return Crimea,” Spicer said. “At the same time, he fully expects to and wants to be able to get along with Russia, unlike previous administrations, so that we can solve many problems together facing the world such as the threat of ISIS and terrorism.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) cautioned on CNN on Wednesday that “while every administration has tried to have a so-called Russia reset, I think our ability to be buddies with Russia is just incompatible with our value system.”

“The Russians have in their mind, too that they want to have an alliance with the United States. But it’s an alliance that can never happen,” the congressman said. “You see today they’re buzzing our Navy ship. They have a spy ship off the coast, and they’re bombing innocent civilians in Syria, which is definitely not in alignment with our war against ISIS. In fact, that’s the kind of thing that creates more ISIS members.”