It is not clear whether Mr. Tillerson's firm stance on Russia is in keeping with Mr. Trump's desire to improve relations with Russia. But the Secretary of State has maintained it since his confirmation hearings in January despite the Order of Friendship he had received from Mr. Putin when Mr. Tillerson was the chief executive of Exxon Mobil.
Mr. Tillerson and Trump disagree on a number of important policies, including climate change and Iran, and their differences in tone with respect to Russia are striking. Such discrepancies are an important reason why senior government officials said on Thursday that the White House planned to replace Mr. Tillerson with Mike Pompeo, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, who is more aligned with Mr. Trump's nationalist views. .
So far, however, Mr. Tillerson has shown no signs of being willing to go silent, all the less challenging the president to dismiss him.
After his talks with Mr. Putin in November at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Danang, Vietnam, Mr. Trump emphasized that he believed Mr. Putin was sincere in his denials of interference in the 2016 US presidential election, an assessment that was widely condemned.
Mr. Trump later posted on Twitter "When will all those who hate and mock that having a good relationship with Russia be something good, it's not a bad thing"
In Vienna, Mr. Tillerson did not mention the electoral intromissions, saying that the differences between the two countries over Crimea and Ukraine were the real points of friction.
"President Trump, as you know, throughout his campaign was very clear that it is very important that Russia and the United States have a better relationship, but the problem that stands in the way is Ukraine," Tillerson said. a press conference with the Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sebastian Kurz.
For the first time in months, Tillerson had with him a large part of the Western world, with diplomats from Canada, countries from Europe and other nations pledging to support their efforts to make Russia respond.
The Trump withdrawal from the administration of the Paris climate agreement, threats to abandon the Iranian nuclear deal and the president's declaration on Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel have created sharp divisions between Washington and almost all its allies traditional
During Mr. Tillerson's first two days in Europe this week, those differences were inevitable, as each of his counterparts in the European Union and NATO denounced one or more of Mr. Trump's moves, often being next to Mr. Tillerson.
Such isolation has become the subject of the secretary of state's tenure, since the White House freezes him from the formulation of policies, the allies treat him with coldness and his diplomatic corps sees him as something like a pariah because of their tendency to ignore them.
However, with the Russians in Vienna, Mr. Tillerson was no longer the stranger, and Washington's traditional allies joined him.
The main focus of the security forum is a proposal to deploy a United Nations peacekeeping force in eastern Ukraine. Moscow and Washington support that mission, but they differ in their details. Washington wants the force to have a broad mandate to help end the fight and restore Ukrainian sovereignty.
"We will continue to work with Russia to see if we can not agree on a peace force that can enter Ukraine, reduce violence." Mr. Tillerson said, adding: "More people have died in 2017 than in 2016, and this simply has to stop."
But while Russia wants the mandate of the peacekeeping forces to limit itself to protecting international observers, the United States says it believes that such a mandate would only serve to consolidate Russia's intervention. A monitor, an American paramedic, was killed in April.
Mr. Lavrov said the United States intended to create "an occupational administration" and "solve this problem by force."
The war in eastern Ukraine began in 2014, when Russia sent secret troops to the area to support the separatists. Since then, more than 10,000 people died there.
After their hard speeches, Tillerson and Lavrov held a bilateral meeting on Thursday afternoon, and a crush on Russian journalists rushed, along with some American reporters, hoping Mr. Lavrov would get involved in the type of playful jokes for which he is famous.
After a US journalist shouted a question about Mr. Trump's decision on Jerusalem, Mr. Lavrov told the reporter to shout louder. She did, her words echoing in the small room like a tuba from an Austrian oompah band.
"I can not hear you," said the Russian envoy, and the media was led.
After the meeting, Mr. Tillerson said that there had been progress with the Russians.
"We have dialogue, we get cooperation," he said. "We have not resolved it, you do not solve it in a meeting"
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