Stories

Steve LeVine Apr 12, 2017
SaveSave story

A chance for Putin, Tillerson diplomacy in Moscow

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson begins meetings today in Moscow amid grave tensions and name-calling between the U.S. and Russia, roiled by the U.S. missile strike on Syria. The ground is fertile for the start of genuine diplomatic discussions over Syria.

Why it matters: Putin knows that he has a problem in Syria — he wants to retain Russia's military presence there, but is not wedded to President Bashar al-Assad. Therefore, he will be looking for a face-saving way out of the current crisis. Aides to Putin threatened that Tillerson would get no meeting with the Russian leader, but look for at least a courtesy handshake between them — both sides know it is silly to keep barking at each other, and that they need to restore some decorum to the relationship. Ultimately, the Russian side still believes Trump is someone they can do business with.