Report: Tillerson Appointed SecState at Putin’s Request

March 5, 2018


The choice of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State,  for those paying attention, was as clear a signal as a sky-writer over Manhattan that this presidency was Putin-centric – and the incredibly bold Russian play on the election had one goal, to preserve the Oil and Gas wealth of the Putin oligarchy.

New Yorker:

One subject that Steele is believed to have discussed with Mueller’s investigators is a memo that he wrote in late November, 2016, after his contract with Fusion had ended. This memo, which did not surface publicly with theothers, is shorter than the rest, and is based on one source, described as “a senior Russian official.” The official said that he was merely relaying talk circulating in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but what he’d heard was astonishing: people were saying that the Kremlin had intervened to block Trump’s initial choice for Secretary of State, Mitt Romney. (During Romney’s run for the White House in 2012, he was notably hawkish on Russia, calling it the single greatest threat to the U.S.) The memo said that the Kremlin, through unspecified channels, had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions, and who would coöperate on security issues of interest to Russia, such as the conflict in Syria. If what the source heard was true, then a foreign power was exercising pivotal influence over U.S. foreign policy—and an incoming President.


Wall Street Journal:

U.S. sanctions against Russia prevented Exxon MobilCorp.XOM +0.47% from pursuing ambitious plans to explore for oil north of Siberia. But the final blow, some experts said, may have been delivered by lower oil prices.

The Texas oil giant said in a regulatory filing late Wednesday that it would walk away from the joint venture with state-controlled PAO RosneftROSN -9.18% to seek oil in the ice-choked waters of the Kara Sea, a hard-fought deal signed in 2012 by the company’s former chief executive, Rex Tillerson, now U.S. secretary of state.

Mr. Tillerson touted the agreement as a breakthrough giving Exxon access to one of the world’s great unexplored oil-and-gas basins. The company reportedly spent about $700 million to drill the first well, likely making it the most expensive ever. It struck oil, according to Rosneft, but further exploration was halted because of U.S. sanctions imposed by the Obama administration following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine in 2014.

Exxon unsuccessfully sought waivers that would allow it to proceed in some areas in Russia—a campaign that formally ended with President Donald Trump declining to waive sanctions for the company’s Rosneft ventures last year. The U.S. also added new sanctions on Moscow last year for its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

But in the meantime, something else happened: Oil prices plunged, and the global chase for new supplies changed. The deal was struck when oil prices topped $90 a barrel and prospects for them remaining high seemed likely. Oil is now trading at just over $60 a barrel, and many companies, including Exxon, are pursuing shorter-cycle projects such as drilling in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico that can deliver returns more quickly.

ABC News:

“ExxonMobil is making a significant investment in Russia, and these agreements serve as the foundation for our projects and future work together,” Tillerson said in a press release at the time. “Experience tells us that a good foundation is critical for success in the Arctic and elsewhere.”

Sanctions against Russia over its military’s actions in Ukraine in early 2014 were ordered in March of that year, and additional regulations were imposed last year in response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Exxon was denied a waiver for the non-election-related sanctions in April 2017 as it sought to move forward with the Rosneft deal.

In his current capacity as secretary of state, Tillerson expressed dismay at the additional sanctions approved by Congress during the summer of 2017, but said his opposition laid in his belief that they would harm efforts to improve relations with Russia. The secretary recused himself from all Exxon-related matters for the first two years of his tenure as secretary of state.


Without Russia, Exxon has struggled to grow production. Output has dropped in five of the last six years and the company has made several acquisitions from the U.S. to Mozambique to arrest the decline. Under Tillerson’s successor, Darren Woods, Exxon has shifted more of its focus to the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, offshore Guyana, Brazil and East Africa.

Energy Information Agency:

Russia is a major exporter of crude oil, petroleum products, and natural gas. Sales of these fuels accounted for 68% of Russia’s total export revenues in 2013, based on data from Russia’s Federal Customs Service. Russia received almost four times as much revenue from exports of crude oil and petroleum products as from natural gas. Crude oil exports alone were greater in value than the value of all non-oil and natural gas exports.

Russia is one of the leading countries that actively produce oil and supply it to other countries: Over last ten years Russian economy depends on oil and gas revenues as the oil prices grow. This has double meaning. On the one hand, the Russian economy demonstrated growth; the budget revenues, therefore, grew due to oil and gas industry, which may be beneficial for the state. But then the oil dependency resulted in other industries underdeveloped or even did not develop at all, which would be negative in terms of diversification of the national economy and mitigation of risks. Therefore, as the oil prices reduced late 2014, it negatively affected the Russian economy and may adversely affect the prospects of economic growth under uncertainty of oil prices.


7 Responses to “Report: Tillerson Appointed SecState at Putin’s Request”

  1. At this point nothing really shocks me re Trump & Company.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Have you read Fire and Fury and Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse? If you do, you will have some new shocks.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    This is why it’s so important that we tighten the sanctions on Russia and squeeze them even harder. Screw Russia, and at the same time screw Exxon, Tillerson, and the fossil fuel industry in general.

  3. Sir Charles Says:

    Good article, Peter. It hits the nail on the head.

    As I previously pointed out Putin is actually looking forward to climate change as Russia could even easier access their oil and gas reserves which are the country’s only significant export goods. Now comes the fifty cent question: Politically, what’s the difference between Russia and the USA? Both are governed by a bunch of super-rich oligarchs.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      free elections, but only if we want them and work for them.

      • rabiddoomsayer Says:

        Yep, you get to choose between two parties both owned by special interests. As George Carlin said “you have the illusion of choice”. You have the choice of very right wing and bat shit crazy right wing.

        Democracy is broken in the United States. A few Russian trolls does not alter the fact that America elected Trump, willingly. The level of Russian interference really was quite minor.

        You could have had Bernie who quite possibly was America’s last chance.

  4. Sir Charles Says:

    I see our Russian site troll here giving us the thumbs down…

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