WASHINGTON (UPI) — During his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, Rex Tillerson said Russia is an “unfriendly adversary” that poses a “danger” as it attempts to advance its own interests.
Tillerson had a tense exchange with Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in which Tillerson refused to call Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” despite Rubio’s persistence. Tillerson was undergoing questioning as part of his confirmation hearing to become secretary of state.
Rubio said it was “discouraging” Tillerson would not call Putin a “war criminal,” something Rubio said was “globally accepted.”
Though Tillerson did not support Rubio’s statements in which the Florida senator also said Putin murdered political enemies, ExxonMobil’s former CEO took a strong-line stance against Russian interests.
“The leadership of Russia has a plan, it is a geographic plan … to re-establish its role in the global world order,” Tillerson said. “They believe they deserve a rightful role in the global world order because they are a nuclear power.”
Tillerson said that though engaging in diplomatic relations with Russia is necessary, the countries will not likely be allies.
“We’re not likely to ever be friends,” Tillerson said, adding that the United States and Russia “do not hold the same values.”
“At this point, they are in the ‘unfriendly adversary’ category,” Tillerson said.
Tiller son’s views on Russia have been of particular interest to senators considering his confirmation due to his past close ties to Putin. U.S. intelligence communities have accused Russia of hacking Democratic organizations in attempt to meddle with the 2016 election.
Tillerson also acknowledge climate change could exist, but said that it was a “personal position.”
“The risk of climate change does exist, and the consequences could be serious enough that action should be taken,” Tillerson said, but added that “our ability to predict that effect is very limited.”
Tillerson said Trump “invited my views on climate change” and said he looked forward to working with Trump to issues related to climate policies.
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