The Trump Administration Has A New Plan For Dealing With Russia – BuzzFeed News


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As the White House fends off accusations of collusion with Russia, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has taken it upon himself to guide the Trump administration’s thinking on dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The former Texas oilman, who worked extensively with Kremlin officials as CEO of Exxon Mobil, has crafted a three-point framework for future US-Russia relations that takes a narrow view of what can be achieved between the former Cold War adversaries, but seeks a constructive working relationship with Putin on a limited set of issues.

“Right now, US-Russia relations are in the gutter,” a senior State Department official familiar with the framework told BuzzFeed News. “We want to make sure it doesn’t flush into the sewer.”

The framework, a classified document that hasn’t previously been revealed, has become the source of anxious speculation by US allies still puzzled about Trump’s commitment to deterring Russia and bolstering NATO allies, even after his endorsement of the military alliance’s principle of collective defense.

The first pillar of the framework, a US official said, is to convey to Moscow that aggressive actions against the United States are a losing proposition that will be counterproductive for both sides. When Russia takes bold actions against American interests, such as sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan or harassing US diplomats in Moscow, Washington will push back.

The second pillar is to engage on issues that are of strategic interest to the United States, including the long-running civil war in Syria, North Korea’s rapidly developing nuclear weapons program, and cybersecurity and cyberespionage, a US official said. Tillerson wants to reverse Moscow’s recent boost in trade with North Korea following some modest success in getting China to ban imports of coal from the rogue nation. He is seeking better coordination with Russia in Syria against ISIS, although it is unclear how that might be achieved. The two Cold War foes also maintain an increasingly sophisticated arsenal of cyberweapons, but lack a mutual understanding of what’s fair game and what isn’t.

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