Tillerson was selected by President-elect Donald Trump as Secretary of State on Monday night, his transition team confirmed. Tillerson, whom Trump called a “world class player” during a Fox News Sunday interview, has maintained close ties with Russia and was awarded the Order of Friendship in 2013 by Putin, an honor for a foreign citizen.
According to Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov, Tillerson “has actively assisted business cooperation” and is known to many Russian officials. AFP also reported that Putin has “good, businesslike” relations with the new U.S. Secretary of State, along with many other Russian officials.
When Ushakov was asked whether Tillerson’s new role could help mend U.S.-Russian ties, he told Reuters: “We want to get out of the crisis state [of our relations], which does not satisfy neither the Russian nor the American side.”
A 40-year employee of the energy giant, Tillerson is the first person in at least a century to be elevated to the post of Secretary of State without prior government experience. He appears to share Trump’s desire to dramatically reshape the U.S.’s relationship with Russia and is also an opponent of U.S. sanctions on the Russian regime after its annexation of Crimea and involvement in Eastern Ukraine.