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Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has a three-point approach to the US-Russia relationship, and it looks a lot like President Obama's 2015 plan, developed during the Ukraine crisis, per Buzzfeed News, which was briefed on the classified plan.

Why it matters: Tillerson's three "pillars," and the points where his plan differs from Obama's, demonstrate how conflicted the administration is over how to improve relations with Russia while maintaining a check on Vladimir Putin's behavior.

The plan:
  • First, the U.S. will make clear to Russia that aggression — such as arming the Taliban — will not be tolerated.
  • Second, there will be engagement on issues that concern the U.S. Among these are the civil war in Syria — where Russia just threatened U.S. planes after the U.S. downed a Syrian jet — and North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
  • Third, Tillerson's plan will pursue "strategic stability" with the Kremlin — an equilibrium of cooperation on shared interests and pushback against aggression.
What's not in there:
  • "Resilience" of Russian neighbors. Tillerson's plan does not include specific measures to empower the Eastern European countries which are at risk of Russian interference, Buzzfeed reports. This element was central in Obama's approach.
  • The White House perspective. Obama's plan primarily came out of his National Security Council, but Tillerson drafted his framework from within the State Department.
What it means:

James Carafano, a defense expert on Trump's transition team, told Buzzfeed, "Putin will deliver nothing on Syria or North Korea, and this will allow Tillerson to show Trump he tried." Trump's Plan A has always been to cooperate with Russia, but if Carafano is right, Tillerson may just be going through the motions while preparing for a more confrontational strategy. In the meantime, the administration risks being stuck in no-man's land, neither meaningfully confronting Russia nor tangibly improving the relationship.

Go deeper

32 mins ago - World

Former spy Steele defends controversial Trump Russia dossier

Former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele arrives at the High Court in London in July 2020. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

The author of the "Steele Dossier," containing unverified claims about former President Trump told ABC News he stands by his controversial report, according to excerpts from an upcoming documentary published Sunday.

Why it matters: Former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele's dossier was used as part of former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged links to Russia's government.

Ina Fried, author of Login
4 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO sees making own chips as a matter of national security

Pat Gelsinger. Photo: Axios on HBO

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is putting the pressure on the U.S. government to help subsidize chip manufacturing, insisting the current reliance on plants in Taiwan and Korea as "geopolitically unstable."

Why it matters: There is bipartisan support for funding the domestic semiconductor industry, but Congress has yet to sign the check. The Senate has passed the CHIPS Act that includes $52 billion in semiconductor investment, but it has yet to pass the House.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children are among a group of 17 missionaries kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, per a statement from Christian Aid Ministries Sunday.

The latest: "The group of 16 U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children," the Ohio-based group said. Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne on Sunday identified the 400 Mawozo gang as the group responsible, in a statement to AP.