By John Helmer, Moscow
US Government officials and the official US media have wound up their meetings in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin with one unexpected admission, one unprecedented demand, and a non-disclosure by the Kremlin which has never happened before.
Following morning and midday meetings at the Foreign Ministry and the Kremlin, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a press conference he approves the US use of cyber-warfare weapons, but makes a distinction between military and civilian targets. The US Government, he made clear, authorizes hacking against enemies but objects to enemies retaliating in kind. Listen to the full 54-minute conference here. For the State Department’s English translation, read this.
At minute 35:50 Kommersant reporter Yelena Chernenko asked Tillerson if he had talked at his meetings about US allegations of Russian interference in the US presidential election campaign. She also asked Tillerson: “could you tell us about how the presence of Russian cybernauts differs from the question of American cybernauts in virtual space?”
Tillerson answered: “we touched only briefly on the issue of cyber security and in particular on the challenges that it is placing on everyone in terms of a new threat, an emerging threat.” He implied his belief the Russian Government had hacked into the US election campaign. “But I think I do make a distinction when cyber tools are used to interfere with the internal decisions among countries as to how their elections are conducted,” Tillerson said. “That is one use of cyber tools. Cyber tools to disrupt weapons programs – that’s another use of the tools, and I make a distinction between the two.” Tillerson avoided saying the US Government does both.
The last question asked in the session was directed at Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov from a Columbia Broadcasting System correspondent, Margaret Brennan (pictured below, left, with her Marine Corps husband, Major Ali Iyad Yakub, who is of Syrian origin). At minute 48:14 Brennan said: “President Trump has called Bashar al-Assad an animal. This is the leader your government continues to back. Can you tell us how long Russia will be willing to risk the lives of its soldiers and spend its money to protect him?”
Lavrov (above, right) speaks perfect English. Unlike Tillerson, he did not use an interpreter’s earphone throughout the press conference. But no foreign reporter in Moscow, nor any American, has ever publicly requested he answer questions in English.
Lavrov ignored the request, and also the insult. In Russian he replied: “John Kerry and [White House spokesman Sean] Spicer have already said that it is possible to get rid of ISIL without regime change, and Kerry has said that it is much more important to deal with ISIL than Assad’s regime. So I think we think in very like manner here. The common threat is absolutely obvious.”
The press conference started at 13:40 and concluded at 14:30. The meeting between Lavrov, Putin and Tillerson preceded it, and ran from 1100 until 1300. There has been no official Kremlin notice that it occurred. The Kremlin website has ignored the meeting with Tillerson, reporting instead Putin’s interview with the Kyrgyzstan television company Mir, which was posted at 12 noon; followed by a meeting with government ministers at 15:00.
Source: http://kremlin.ru/ -- homepage at noon on April 13
A meeting between the Russian President and the US Secretary of State has never before been omitted from the official Kremlin record. A Kremlin spokesman was asked today why no notice and no photographic record have been published of yesterday’s meeting. The spokesman replied: “The photographs should be on the website in the event that any pictures were taken.”
NOTE: The lead photograph was taken on September 2, 1945, when Japan formally capitulated and signed the Instrument of Surrender. US Army General Douglas MacArthur presided at the microphone. Behind him, on the left, was the signatory for the Soviet Union’s forces, Lieutenant-General Kuzma Derevyanko. At the capitulation ceremony and subsequently, when Derevyanko served as the Soviet representative to the Allied occupation of Japan, he was never asked to answer questions in English. What he was thinking in Russian during the ceremony has never been translated into English.