The optics of the news about Tillerson, too, are stunning, even against the cascade of extraordinary events in the early Trump administration. ”If true, secretary Tillerson’s decision to skip his first NATO ministerial summit sends a terrible signal to our allies about Trump foreign policy priorities,” Michael McFaul, the former US ambassador to Russia in the Obama administration, told Quartz via email.

Andrew Kuchins, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies, said there was not necessarily anything wrong with Tillerson’s reported travel plans.

“I don’t see a problem here. Relations with China and Russia are two of our biggest challenges, and the chance of something significant happening at a NATO foreign ministerial meeting is close to zero,” Kuchins said. “The Trump administration has been clear they will not play by the old rule book. Let’s give them a chance to show it can work before setting our hair on fire.”

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