At a meeting with the top diplomats from the United States’ allies in the Group of Seven, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stunned his counterparts with a statement that some worry signals a policy shift from the Trump regime.
“Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” he asked at a convening in Lucca, Italy.
Bloomberg called the question an “offhand remark” and State Department spokesperson R.C. Hammon called the comment a “rhetorical device.” Europe’s diplomats, however, are not leaving anything to chance.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, told Bloomberg that he explained to Tillerson that American taxpayers should want to support a European Union that’s “strong politically, strong from a security point of view, and strong economically.”
Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO who was awarded Russia’s “Order of Friendship” by President Vladimir Putin in 2013, has stirred controversy for his ties to the adversarial nation since being nominated to his current post.
If he is now contemplating a change in policy as many feared, it would contradict past statements in which he affirmed a commitment to the current sanctions against Russia, which were put in place for its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.
That being said, consistency has not been a strong suit of the Trump regime thus far. In just 75 days in office, President Donald Trump has flipped 180 degrees on Syrian intervention and contradicted the “America First” theme of his inauguration speech.
For now at least, America’s allies are wise to follow Ayrault’s lead and tread carefully.
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Sheila Norton is a writer with ten years of Capitol Hill experience. Subscribe to the OD Action email to get all the hottest news delivered right to your inbox every day at www.odaction.com