NATO/RUSSIA/TRUMP PEOPLE/REX TILLERSON: “The top U.S. diplomat and the Pentagon’s chief stressed the importance of NATO and criticized Russia for aggression and meddling in other countries’ POLICY, easing European allies’ concerns about President Donald Trump’s commitment to trans-Atlantic security.
In his first appearance at a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sought to assuage worries that the new administration would seek closer ties with Russia at NATO’s expense, particularly after Trump said during the 2016 presidential campaign that the alliance was ‘obsolete.’
‘Let me be very clear at the outset of my remarks: the U.S. commitment to NATO is strong and this alliance remains the bedrock for trans-Atlantic security,’ Tillerson said Friday in Brussels. ‘The NATO alliance is also fundamental to countering both nonviolent, but at times violent, Russian agitation and Russian aggression.’
He said U.S. sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea ‘will remain until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered our sanctions’ and ‘we will continue to hold Russia accountable.’
Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired general known for his straight talk, was even more outspoken. At a briefing in London on Friday, he said Russia’s ‘violations of international law are now a matter of record — from what happened with Crimea to other aspects of their behavior in mucking around inside other people’s elections, that sort of thing.’ “
– Nick Wadhams , Jonathan Stearns , and Alex Morales, “Tillerson and Mattis Blast Russia as Trump’s Moscow Reset Stalls,” Bloomberg, March 31, 2017 4:41am