Julie Bishop urges USA not to act too friendly with Russia

Julie Bishop urges USA not to act too friendly with Russia
Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop. Photo Chatham House via Wikimedia Commons

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said that the United States should avoid giving praise to Russia in light of its bad behaviour as a superpower.

In her plea, Ms Bishop cited the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 and the annexation of the Crimea.

Ms Bishop is currently on a US trip with Defence Minister Marise Payne for conferences with their American counterparts.

Mr Bishop said that she was concerned with US President Donald Trump’s attitude towards Russia, saying that Russia may “seek to escape responsibility” regarding alleged crimes.

Earlier last week, Donald Trump held talks with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Mr Trump’s behaviour, including joining Putin in contradicting the findings of US intelligence agencies regarding Russian meddling in the US 2016 Presidential election, was roundly condemned by pundits on both side of the political aisle.

Mr Trump also reportedly invited Mr Putin to visit him in Washington later in the year.

Mr Bishop agreed that Mr Trump’s objective of opening up relations with Russia was appropriate, but she insisted that she did not want Russia to get off easy for its past wrongdoings.

She said she will urge Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, to keep up the pressure on Russia regarding “not just on MH17” but also on “the annexation of Crimea”.

Mr Bishop also cited Russia’s intervention in the Ukraine, its friendly relationship with the Syrian government, the nerve agent strike in the UK and what she called “growing evidence” of cyber espionage.

The visit will mark Ms Bishop’s first encounter with Mr Pompeo, who only recently became Secretary of State, replacing Rex Tillerson.

She also said that she wanted the US to continue backing Australia’s attempts to hold Russia accountable for its part in the MH17 tragedy.

Ms Bishop continued by saying that the relationship between the US and Australia was essential for prosperity and mutual security.