Putin says U.S.-Russia ties worse since Trump took office


US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Moscow this week will be an early test of whether the Trump administration can use any momentum generated by a missile attack on a Syrian air base to craft and execute a strategy to end the Syrian war.

Yet Moscow is happy to host the U.S. secretary of state.

G7 nations have rejected a call by Britain for sanctions against Russian Federation in the wake of a deadly chemical attack they say was carried out by Moscow's ally, Syria. Those include getting rid of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's remaining chemical weapons and pressing Assad to negotiate Syria's future.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the levels of trust between Moscow and Washington have deteriorated since U.S. President Donald Trump took office. The State Department said last week a meeting had not been confirmed with Putin, who met with Tillerson when the Texan headed Exxon Mobil.

"If Russia wants to be absolved of responsibility for future attacks, Vladimir Putin needs to enforce commitments, to dismantle Assad's chemical weapons arsenal for good, and to get fully engaged with the United Nations peacekeeping progress".

He said the "measured response" by the USA had "resulted in the damage or destruction of fuel and ammunition sites, air defence capabilities and 20% of Syria's operational aircraft". He'll meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and a meeting with President Putin can not be ruled out.

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"The demonstration of the administration's willingness to use force has the potential to add some leverage to the diplomacy", said Antony Blinken, a deputy to former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Senior White House officials, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said Assad's government carried out the April 4 sarin nerve gas attack on civilians in Syria's Idlib provinc. Eighty-seven people, including many children were killed in the attack.

USA officials previously have said Russians routinely work with Syrians at the Shayrat air base where the attack is supposed to have originated.

USA president Donald Trump ordered a strike by 59 cruise missiles on the base he said launched the attack in America's first direct attack against the Syrian government.

"The Syrian government would be ill-advised ever again to use chemical weapons", Mattis said.

It also is unclear if Trump, who has expressed scepticism about multilateral institutions such as the European Union and United Nations, will have patience for the protracted negotiations that a comprehensive deal on Syria would require.

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Russian Federation reacted angrily to last week's USA missile strike on Syria, condemning it as an "act of aggression".

In comparison, Haley told CNN Sunday that removing Assad was a United States priority and inevitable.

The report says the USA relied on "signals intelligence and geospatial intelligence, laboratory analysis of physiological samples collected from multiple victims, as well as a significant body of credible open source reporting".

The fact that Rex Tillerson's visit to Moscow is happening at all is telling. As of this weekend, the talks were still on.

The Trump administration also wants to keep the focus in Syria on defeating Islamic State rather than opening a conflict with Russian Federation or Syria's government.

Mr Tillerson will go ahead with his visit to Russian Federation to "deliver that clear and co-ordinated" message to Moscow, which continues to deny Syrian forces used chemical weapons last week.

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Russia's defence ministry also said it had information that rebel fighters were bringing "poisonous substances" to the areas around the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhun and Eastern Ghuta, among other places. "Russia's had a very hard time getting President Assad to come to the negotiating table in any kind of meaningful way". "First and foremost, we must defeat ISIS", he said, when asked about the possibility of deposing Assad.