According to Russian state media reports President Vladimir Putin has reversed his prior position will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. This is the first flinch from Putin and highlights his awareness of how weakened his political hand has become.
The Trump administration, led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, has maneuvered a strong-play (punched Assad, Russia and Iran directly where it hurts) and gathered the support of a massive international audience.
Putin’s intransigence and unwillingness to state publicly that chemical weapons are out-of-bounds, has created his isolation and diminishment. Additionally, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley made Russia’s Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov look like a disconnected apologist for Assad’s brutality at the emergency U.N meeting.
Prior attempts to play out the optic of the unaffected strong-man (staying away from direct talks with T-Rex), have now collapsed and the political optic reversed. Secretary Tillerson looms internationally as the tower of moral strength. Instead of projecting strength President Putin looks weak, cowered and afraid of T-Rex on the international stage. Hence, it does not come as a surprise to hear Vladimir Putin has reversed his decision:
Putin’s spokesman said Monday that the foreign leader did not plan to see Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state. Tillerson was to meet with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, instead.
The Kremlin did not say why Putin was avoiding Tillerson – who arrived in Moscow late Tuesday evening – after meeting repeatedly with his predecessor, John Kerry, in the Obama years, only that he was not on the president’s schedule.
Russia‘s snub to Tillerson came after its verbal assault on the US for Trump’s air strikes in Syria. Putin’s government warned Trump that it was ‘one step from war’ with the US following the attack.
Tillerson hammered Russia right back on Tuesday, saying in a statement that Russia had ‘failed in its responsibility’ to locate and destroy Bashar al-Assad’s entire stockpile of chemical weapons. (read more)