US ill-prepared to confront Russia on election interference: Tillerson
Story Code : 702982
“I don't know that I would say we are better prepared, because the Russians will adapt as well,” Tillerson said in an interview with Fox News in Bogota, Colombia.
“The point is, if it's their intention to interfere, they are going to find ways to do that. We can take steps we can take but this is something that, once they decide they are going to do it, it's very difficult to preempt it.”
Tillerson’s assessment comes after CIA Director Mike Pompeo warned last month that he had “every expectation” Russia would attempt to influence the 2018 elections.
The CIA chief said the US would “push back in a way that is sufficiently robust that the impact they have on our election won’t be great.”
There will be 'consequences'
Tillerson also said the US should confront Russia regarding its attempts to interfere in American elections instead of turning a blind eye.
“I think it's important we just continue to say to Russia, ‘Look, you think we don't see what you're doing. We do see it and you need to stop. If you don't, you're going to just continue to invite consequences for yourself,’” the top diplomat said.
The Donald Trump administration said last week that it would not impose new sanctions on Russia, arguing that the threat of sanctions was already “serving as a deterrent.”
The intelligence community concluded last year that Russia had conducted a campaign aimed at helping Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election. President Trump and Moscow have denied the allegations.
Russia 'responsible' for Syria chemical weapons
In the interview, Tillerson also condemned Russia’s activities in Syria in support of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
“They are supporting the Assad regime, they are providing the air cover for the regime. Russia is responsible, they agreed that they would take care of the chemical weapons in Syria, clearly they failed to do that,” he said.
“Russia really needs to move to a different place on this, and they can deny it all they want to, but facts are facts and they need to go to another spot.”
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday that the White House was concerned about the use of sarin - a deadly nerve agen - in Syria, but added, “I don't have the evidence.”
Damascus has dismissed as “lies” the allegations about the Syrian army’s use of chemical weapons against militants.