U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a stern ultimatum to Russia Tuesday: side with America and its allies on Syria, or stand alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad, Iran and the militant group Hezbollah. “We want to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people. Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role,” Tillerson added in remarks to reporters following urgent meetings in Italy with top diplomats.
“Or Russia can maintain its alliance with this group, which we believe is not going to serve Russia’s interests longer term. “We cannot let this happen again,” he added. The meeting of “likeminded” countries was arranged on the sidelines of the summit of the Group of 7 industrialized economies days after the U.S. launched airstrikes against Assad’s forces, and hours before Tillerson is scheduled to make a tense trip to Moscow to pressure Russia’s leaders to end their support for Assad. MORE