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match made in russia

Rex Tillerson wants sanctions on Russia lifted. That could hugely benefit his company.

Oil and gas company ExxonMobil has deals worth up to $500 billion stalled with Russia that can only go forward if American sanctions are lifted, The New York Times reports. And Donald Trump has just confirmed that the company's chief executive, Rex W. Tillerson, will be America's next secretary of state.

"The chances that [Tillerson] will view Russia with ExxonMobil DNA are close to 100 percent," said Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy nonprofit Public Citizen.

The sanctions are a consequence of Russia's aggressive annexation of eastern Ukraine and for Russia's role in shooting down the passenger plane Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014. The sanctions were imposed with the goal of pressuring Russian President Vladimir Putin to change his policies toward the neighboring nation. Tillerson, though, has expressed eagerness for the sanctions to be lifted: "We'll await a time in which the sanctions environment changes or the sanctions requirements change," he said in 2015.

Both the left and the right have criticized Tillerson for his friendly relationship with Russia — a relationship so friendly, in fact, that Tillerson was even honored with the nation's "friendship award."