Russian President Vladimir Putin recently reminded Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Russia gave him a state honor in 2013 for his cooperation as ExxonMobil’s executive with the Russian government to jokingly add that, despite that, Tillerson “fell in with the wrong crowd.”
We also awarded the Order of Friendship to Mr. Tillerson, your fellow countryman, but fell in with the wrong crowd,
The Russian leader thinks that the United States’ top diplomat “is moving to a slightly different direction” and expressed hope that his past friendship with the Kremlin would “eventually” take him back to the “right path.”
Putin made the comments at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on Thursday.
Russia Will Continue Doing Business with Exxon
Tillerson was awarded the Order of Friendship four years ago by the Russian president himself as a reminder of the close relationship between the former Exxon CEO and Russia. The Order of Friendship is one of the highest honors for non-military foreigners in Russia.
During the forum, Putin admitted that his current relations with the United States and Tillerson are tenser now than in the past, but added that despite all “diplomatic complications,” the Russian government is still doing business with U.S.-based companies, including Exxon.
Putin expressed regret that Tillerson is organizing searches in Russia’s diplomatic facilities while the Kremlin is working on resolving issues like the Sakhalin 1 oil and gas fields with his former employer, gas giant Exxon.
In recent months, the relations between the Kremlin and Washington have soured rapidly. In response to Congress’ retaliatory measures following allegations that Russia interfered in the U.S. election, the Russian government ordered the U.S. to reduce diplomatic personnel located in Russia.
The U.S. fired back and ordered the closure of a Russian consulate in San Francisco and other two diplomatic facilities in Washington and New York. On Tuesday, the Kremlin threatened to sue the U.S. over the decision.
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