Russia’s Sputnik news agency reports that Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson said in his confirmation hearing at the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday that the United States would only recognize Crimea rejoining Russia if broader agreements are reached acceptable to the Ukrainian people.

“The only way that can ever happen is if there were some broader agreements that were satisfactory to Ukrainian people," Tillerson reportedly stated when asked whether the US can possibly recognize the annexation of Crimea.  “Absent that, no, we would never recognize that."

Meanwhile, The Washington Times reports Former ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state, took a tough line on Russian hacking, praised Mexican immigrants and acknowledged the problem posed by global climate change — drawing repeated accolades from Democrats during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, but setting up some potentially awkward moments with his future boss.

Issues relating to Russia reportedly dominated much of Wednesday’s hearing.

Mr. Tillerson, who spent seven hours testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, faced some uncomfortable moments in an exchange with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who sharply criticized Russia and pressed the former oil executive to brand Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “war criminal.”

The Washington Times says Mr. Tillerson, who had extensive dealings with Russia in the private sector and spoke against economic sanctions on Moscow, refused to do so but did condemn suspected interference by the Kremlin in the U.S. election, and said Moscow’s 2014 Crimea annexation was illegal and worthy of a more muscular response from Washington.

He said Washington must be “clear-eyed about our relationship with Russia” and stressed Moscow “does not think like we do.”

“Russia today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests,” Mr. Tillerson said. “We need an open and frank dialogue with Russia regarding its ambitions so we know how to chart our own course.”