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Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a grim press conference following a 2 hour meeting between Tillerson and Vladimir Putin, with the U.S. Secretary of State conceding that U.S./Russia relations had reached "a low point."

Tillerson

  • "The world's two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship."
  • Tillerson accused Assad of using chlorine bombs and other chemical weapons on more than 50 occasions.
  • He said: "Clearly our view is that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end," and that Russia is best placed to convince Assad that's the case.
  • Russian interference in elections "is fairly well established" and might merit more sanctions, but was only "briefly" mentioned in the meeting with Putin (Lavrov said the U.S. had no evidence it took place and had made no sanctions threats).

Lavrov

  • Called for an "unbiased" and "frank" investigation into the chemical weapons attack in Syria, just a day after U.S. officials accused Russia of attempting to "cover up" the Syrian regime's culpability.
  • Putin "reaffirmed" his agreement to keeping channels of communication between the U.S. and Russian militaries open. Added that Putin is open to cooperating in Syria if the focus is fighting ISIS
  • Lavrov issued a roundabout warning over potential U.S. efforts to remove Assad, saying he hopes Iraq and Libya serve as examples. Called for "common sense," claiming that if Assad is ousted, ISIS may fill the void.
  • Said they discussed the crisis in Ukraine and agreed that the Minsk peace accords are the only way forward, and spoke about North Korea.

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Thousands of protesters marched through Minneapolis' streets Sunday, urging justice for George Floyd on the eve of the start of former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death, per AFP.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start Monday, with jury selection procedures.

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Pfizer CEO feels "liberated" after taking COVID vaccine

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla tells "Axios on HBO" that he recently received his first of two doses of the company's coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Bourla told CNBC in December that company polling found that one of the most effective ways to increase confidence in the vaccine was to have the CEO take it.

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Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse tells "Axios on HBO" that if his company loses a lawsuit brought by U.S. regulators, it would put the country at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

Between the lines: The SEC in December sued Ripple, and Garlinghouse personally, for allegedly selling over $1.3 billion in unregistered securities. Ripple's response is that its cryptocurrency, called XRP, didn't require registration because it's an asset rather than a security.