The U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is starting to sound a whole lot like his predecessor John Kerry.
While meeting with Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and NATO officials on Thursday, Tillerson said that Ukraine remains an obstacle to improving U.S.-Russia relations. In particular, he accused Russia of “invading” Ukraine and warned that there cannot be a “return to business as usual…as long as Russia continues its illegal occupation of Ukraine.”
Such statements are absurd first and foremost because they ignore the root cause of the Ukraine crisis, which was the result of a Washington-backed 2014 coup that put neo-Nazi sympathizers in power, provoking secession and civil war. Moreover, they send the wrong signal to Kiev, incentivizing Poroshenko to keep up the provocation and remain hostile to dialogue with the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. After all, Ukraine can only sustain its relevance in the eyes of the world for as long as it is being portrayed as the victim of the so-called “Russian aggression.”
It’s not that the U.S. can’t improve its relations with Russia, it’s that it wont. Ukraine is not the issue, Ukraine is the excuse.