The timing of the attack was in response to the reported actions by the Syrian government, but the Trump administration has missed few opportunities to use the missile strike as a way of changing the narrative about its potential ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia, a permanent member of 15-nation Council, exercised the veto on Wednesday when a draft resolution drafted by France, the United Kingdom and the U.S. was tabled in in United Nations. "The world's two most foremost nuclear powers can not have this kind of relationship".
During the meeting, Lavrov doubled down on Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, repeating denials that Assad's government was to blame for the gas attack last week and adding a new theory that the attack may have been faked by Assad's enemies.
But R.C. Hammond, a senior Tillerson aide, said flatly: "No agreements were reached". "The fact that Putin received Tillerson was a goodwill gesture". "The stakes in Syria are very high". Both leaders are expected to be at a Group-of-20 meeting in Hamburg in July.
US President Donald Trump has said its "certainly possible" though "probably unlikely" Russian Federation knew about the Syrian chemical attack in advance, adding relations between the US and Russian Federation were tenuous. "They were there. So we'll find out", Donald Trump said. Shortly after Tillerson and Lavrov finished speaking to reporters, Trump said in a news conference in Washington that the United States is "not getting along with Russian Federation at all" and that their relations are at an "all-time low".
"Unbiased experts have to be dispatched to the place where chemical weapons were used", said Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in translation.
"My big takeaway is that the Russian rhetoric of recent days was just that", said Thomas Wright, a fellow at the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. Trump has been trying to avoid the issue of Russian influence and interference in the election which he won. "And Trump seems open to it". The visit came amid a swift and severe deterioration in U.S.
He also rejected American claims of incontrovertible evidence that Assad ordered the chemical attack.
Russian Federation also vetoed a United Nations resolution demanding the Syrian government cooperate with an investigation of the chemical attack, saying that Moscow had expressed its "categorical disagreement" with the draft resolution, which led to further criticism from the West, including the US. Lavrov said it was aimed "at legitimizing the arguments against Damascus".
After vetoing the resolution, Russia's Deputy UN Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov said that Russia's own draft resolution on the alleged attack would request on-site investigations from the OPCW to ensure that "all possible sources and means have been exhausted" before making final conclusions. "That's a butcher", Donald Trump said.
"Our meeting [on Wednesday] comes at an important moment in our relationship, so that we can further clarify areas of common objectives, areas of common interest - even where our tactical approaches may be different - and further clarify areas of sharp difference so that we can better understand why these differences exist", he said.
He had said it was "obsolete because it was designed many, many years ago". Tillerson is a former oil executive who was awarded Russia's Order of Friendship by Putin.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council: "We want to work with Russian Federation to advance a political process in Syria".