Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is going to be in Moscow on Wednesday. After Thursday, the meeting was always going to be Gothic. After all, the US fired 59 Tomahawk missiles into an airfield jointly manned by Syrian and Russian forces after giving the Russians three hours notice — via military channels set up to deconflict air missions — to get the hell out of Dodge. There was no warning sent to Moscow via diplomatic channels. Now the Russians are expressing their displeasure:
The Kremlin said on Monday that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will not meet President Vladimir Putin when he visits Moscow on Wednesday, a move that could point to tensions over a U.S. missile attack on a Syrian air base last week.
John Kerry, Tillerson’s predecessor, often met Putin as well as the Russian foreign minister when he visited Moscow, and Putin granted several audiences to the Texan when he ran oil major Exxon Mobil before taking his current job.
Putin even personally awarded Tillerson a top Russian state award — the Order of Friendship — in 2013, and it was widely expected that the former oilman would meet Putin on what is his first trip to Russia as secretary of state.
But Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Monday that no such meeting was planned, suggesting Tillerson will follow strict diplomatic protocol and only meet his direct counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The US and Russia have far more pain points than they do areas of cooperation. Even on areas of cooperation, Russia has proven itself to be a duplicitous and unreliable partner. A lot of this is learned behavior. Ever since the Soviet Union fell we have insisted upon treating Russia as though it were still the USSR. It isn’t. It has the GDP of Canada. The result of sparing the rod has been a spoiled, irresponsible nuclear-armed brat running roughshod over the international community.
I would expect more of this in the future.