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 ExxonMobil, 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.