Speaking at the economic forum in Vladivostok on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, noting that he "fell into some bad company" after receiving a state award from Russia four years ago for his contribution to the development of Russian-American relations.
Addressing one of the US citizens present at the plenary session of the economic forum, Putin said, "We also awarded the Order of Friendship to your compatriot, Mr. Tillerson. However, he apparently fell into some bad company and is heading in a somewhat other direction."
"But I hope that the wind of cooperation, friendship and reciprocity will put him on the right path in the end," Putin added.
In 2013, Tillerson, who was then the head of the oil giant Exxon Mobil, received from the President of Russia the Order of Friendship for his contribution to strengthening cooperation between the countries in the energy sector.
Putin added that, despite the difficulties in diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States, contacts with US companies, including with ExxonMobil, continue. He expressed the hope that relations with the US will improve during the presidency of Donald Trump, who regularly praised the Russian leader during the presidential campaign in the United States.
Tension between the two countries has increased in recent months as the United States imposed new sanctions on Russia because of its aggression in Ukraine, and as both countries exchanged sanctions against each other's diplomatic missions.
Relations between Moscow and Washington are also overshadowed by Russia's interference in the US presidential elections in 2016.