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Pompeo’s ‘tough’ Russia stance related to Senate confirmation hearing, says senator

According to the politician, it is not right to think that things will only get worse under the new US Secretary of State

MOSCOW, April 12. /TASS/. The statement by Michael Pompeo, the candidate for the post of US Secretary of State, that US 'soft policy toward Russia' is 'now over' is related to his upcoming Senate confirmation grilling, which means that his rhetoric needs to be as tough as possible, Konstantin Kosachev, Head of the Federation Council (upper house) International Affairs Committee, said Thursday.

"The statements by Michael Pompeo, who is being considered for the post of US Secretary of State, on the end to soft policy on Russia, need to be examined within the context of his current situation. The ex-CIA chief needs to attend a tough congressional hearing in order to be appointed, and the main criteria of the hearing is how tough your stance on Russia is. The tougher the statements, the more chances he has of getting the job," Kosachev wrote on his Facebook page.

According to Kosachev, it is not right to think that things will only get worse under the new US Secretary of State. "To begin with, our relations have reached a new low point anyway, and secondly, while the US State Secretary plays an important role, it is not a decisive one. US foreign policy is ‘curated’ by all sorts of institutions - from Congress to the Attorney General," the senator detailed.

Kosachev also expressed his surprise about Pompeo’s belief that US policy toward Russia had been soft in the past.

Speaking about the economic relations between the two countries, Kosachev recalled that on March 26, 1948 the US Department of Commerce officially limited the export of strategic materials and high-tech equipment to the USSR and other communist states. This led to the creation of the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls that controlled which products should and should not be exported. Later on, the Jackson-Vanik amendment was added, which remained in force until 2012, until its replacement with the Magnitsky Act. The senator added that for a long time, the US had blocked Russia’s WTO membership, "so that Russia wouldn’t be able to use the [organization’s] mechanisms to overcome artificial US restrictions on Russian companies’ access to the American market."

"And then the sanctions kicked in, which are now becoming a sign of wide-scale economic aggression. And after all this what the future US top diplomat is saying that it is time to end the soft policy toward Russia," Kosachev expressed his indignance. "Only Napoleon and [Adolf] Hitler had a tougher Russia policy, but it’s better not to follow in their footsteps," the MP added.

Pompeo’s statement

Michael Pompeo, the candidate for the post of US Secretary of State, will state during his hearing of the Senate foreign relations committee that years of soft US policy toward Russia are "now over", according to excerpts of his prepared remarks disseminated by the White House on Wednesday. "Russia continues to act aggressively, enabled by years of soft policy [of the US] toward that aggression. That’s now over," the document states.

On March 13, US President Donald Trump announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had been dismissed and Michael Pompeo, then-director of the Central Intelligence Agency, would replace him. Officially, Tillerson's tenure ended on March 31, now the duties of the Secretary of State are being performed by his first deputy, John Sullivan.