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Russia must be held accountable for its actions, Tillerson says

Joe Carroll and Nick Wadhams, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Russia has ignored U.S. interests and must be held accountable as the U.S. government reclaims its position of leadership in the world, Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump's secretary of State nominee and the former CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., will tell senators at his confirmation hearing.

"Russia must know that we will be accountable to our commitments and those of our allies, and that Russia must be held to account for its actions," Tillerson, 64, will say Wednesday, according to prepared remarks obtained by Bloomberg News. Tillerson also calls for an "open and frank" dialogue with Russia, when appropriate.

The remarks could address concerns expressed by senators in both parties about whether Tillerson, who has no prior government experience, will be able to set aside decades of work as an oilman and pursue an independent U.S. foreign policy. Those concerns have centered on Tillerson's extensive dealings with Russia, where Exxon has brokered multibillion dollar deals and suffered under international sanctions tied to Moscow's annexation of Crimea.

In the remarks, Tillerson goes further with his criticism of Russia than Trump has done so far, faulting what he calls a lack of U.S. leadership that raised doubts about the country's role in the world.

"It was in the absence of American leadership that this door was left open and unintended signals were sent," Tillerson will say, according to the remarks. "We backtracked on commitments we made to allies. We sent weak or mixed signals with 'red lines' that turned into green lights."

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