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Ties with US cannot get any worse, Russia says after Tillerson's exit

Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov (photo by AFP)

Russia says relations with the United States could not get any worse, following US President Donald Trump’s dismissal of his secretary of state, who in a previous, personal capacity had good ties with Moscow.

Trump sacked Rex Tillerson on Tuesday and replaced him by CIA chief Mike Pompeo, who is considered a foreign policy hawk on matters related to Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

“It’s hardly possible to fall below the floor, so it is unlikely things will get any worse in this regard,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday when asked about the high-level shuffle in the US administration.

“In any case, there of course remains the hope of a constructive and sober approach to bilateral ties. There is always this hope,” Peskov added.

The US accuses Moscow of interfering in the 2016 presidential election that put Trump in office. Several investigations have been underway regarding the allegations that both Moscow and Trump have constantly denied.

Pompeo said in his former role as CIA director that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s remarks that his government did not meddle in the US presidential election are “false.”

During his confirmation hearing last year, Pompeo said Russia was a major threat to the US, who “has reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe.”

According to Earl Rasmussen, the executive vice president of the nonprofit Eurasia, the new secretary of state is unlikely to take any action to improve ties between Washington and Moscow.

Tillerson on the other hand had been friendlier to Russia as the chief of oil and gas giant ExxonMobil and before taking over as US secretary of state. In his government capacity, too, he was considered a moderate voice on Russia.

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