Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he was frank with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the unsatisfactory state of U.S.-Russia relations at their meeting Wednesday during Tillerson's Moscow visit. While speaking at a joint press conference alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Tillerson said he'd told Putin relations "are at a low point" and there is presently a "low level of trust between our two countries." "The world's two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this relationship," Tillerson said.
Tensions between the U.S. and Russia recently reached a new high after President Trump decided last week to strike Syria in retaliation for a chemical attack believed to be carried out by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The White House has accused Russia of attempting to cover up Assad's use of chemical weapons. Lavrov on Wednesday demanded an investigation by the United Nations into the chemical attack.
Tillerson's assessment of the relationship between the U.S. and Russia echoed comments made by Putin earlier Wednesday. "One could say that the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved but has rather deteriorated," Putin said during an interview aired on Russian television.
Tillerson said he and Putin have agreed to establish a "working group" to improve relations.