Tillerson asked G7 FM why American taxpayers should care about conflict in Ukraine - French FM

Tillerson asked G7 FM why American taxpayers should care about conflict in Ukraine - French FMU.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked his European counterparts on Tuesday why American voters should care about the conflict in Ukraine, France's foreign minister said.

This is reported by Reuters.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Tillerson had openly questioned why "American taxpayers" should be concerned about Ukraine, which has been racked by a separatist conflict for the last three years.

Ayrault told reporters he had replied: "It is in the interests of the U.S. taxpayers to have a Europe that is secure and is strong politically and economically ... You don't want a weak Europe, broken into bits and feeble."

Ayrault didn’t specify if Tillerson, who flew to Russia right after the Italian meeting, responded to his comment.

The West slapped sanctions on Russia in 2014 over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and its support for the rebels in eastern Ukraine, in a conflict in which more than 10,000 people have been killed.

Kiev and NATO say Moscow has fueled the fighting by supporting the separatists with troops and weapons, a charge it denies.

Tillerson posed the question at a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) industrialised nations. The former oil executive flew to Russia immediately after the gathering and was not immediately available for comment.

In its closing communique, the G7 said a Ukraine ceasefire agreement, struck in Minsk in 2015, had not been fully implemented, adding that Russia was not doing enough to help restore peace.

"Russia's behaviour is not consistent with the rules-based international order," the G7 statement said.
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