Rex Tillerson is in Moscow today to meet with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, and right from the outset, Lavrov pulled no punches. From Bloomberg:
“Over the past few months, we heard a lot of things from Washington regarding the current state and outlook for these relations,” Lavrov told Tillerson. “I will be frank and say that we have a lot of questions regarding the very ambiguous and contradictory ideas on a whole range of bilateral and international issues.”
He may have said “a whole range of bilateral and international issues,” but he was, of course, talking about Syria. And not without cause—here’s what a variety of U.S. leaders have said regarding the situation with Assad, his country, and the ongoing civil war.
Nikki Haley, U.N. Ambassador: “Regime change is something that we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that (Syrian president Bashar al-)Assad is not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria.” And: “There’s not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime.”
Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State: “Our priority in Syria, John, really hasn’t changed. I think the President has — been quite clear. First and foremost, we must defeat ISIS….Once the ISIS threat has been reduced or eliminated, I think we can turn our direction directly to stabilizing the situation in Syria. In that regard, we are hopeful that we can work with Russia and use their influence to achieve areas of stabilization throughout Syria and create the conditions for a political process through Geneva in which we can engage all of the parties on the way forward.”
H.R. McMaster, National Security Adviser: “It’s very difficult to understand how a political solution could result form the continuation of the Assad regime. Now, we are not saying that we are the ones who are going to effect that change. What we are saying is, other countries have to ask themselves some hard questions. Russia should ask themselves … why are we supporting this murderous regime that is committing mass murder of its own population?”
Sean Spicer, Idiot: “I came out to make sure we stay focused on what the president is doing and his decisive action. I needed to make sure that I clarified, and not was in any shape or form any more of a distraction from the president’s decisive action in Syria and the attempts that he is making to destabilize the region.”
Granted, that last example likely came about because the White House press secretary is bad at speaking English, but the examples that came before are clear cases of contradiction. What is Russia, or any foreign government, supposed to make of that?
Lavrov wasn’t even the first Russian higher-up to point out the bizarre messages coming out of Washington. Sergei Ryabkov, depute foreign minister, had this to say earlier today:
“As a whole, the administration’s stance with regard to Syria remains a mystery. Inconsistency is what comes to mind first of all,” RIA news agency quoted Rybakov as telling reporters.
“In general, primitiveness and loutishness are very characteristic of the current rhetoric coming out of Washington. We’ll hope that this doesn’t become the substance of American policy.”
Primitiveness and loutishness! Clearly, relationships are eroding in the aftermath of the U.S. air strikes on Syria. The Russians, as well as the Syrian government, continue to deny that they made a purposeful chemical attack against rebels, and implied that further false flag efforts were underfoot with the goal of pinning blame on Assad and drawing the United States into the war.