"We may be at an all-time low" in relations, Trump said at a news conference at the White House following a visit by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's secretary-general.
Tillerson's first trip to Russian Federation as the top USA diplomat was so freighted with tension that the Kremlin left uncertain whether President Vladimir Putin would snub the American visitor. "And we had the most handsome piece of chocolate cake that you've ever seen and President Xi was enjoying it", Trump said of the moment he received news that the strikes were ready to launch.
"As far as the argument that the U.S. has incontrovertible evidence of the fact that we intervened in the United States presidential campaign, then I have to say once again that not a single fact has been confirmed", he said. U.S. -Russia relations were supposed to improve under the Trump administration.
Russia's hopes for a thaw in Russia-US ties following Mr Trump's election have been shattered by the congressional investigation into alleged ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia. "And Russia said no to a resolution that would have helped promote peace in Syria", US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said after the resolution was failed to be adopted. Tillerson conceded the two world powers had "sharp differences" that have obstructed cooperation but voiced optimism that their talks could narrow those differences.
When asked whether Russian Federation had prior knowledge about the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons, Trump said it's "possible", but "unlikely" that Russian Federation had known in advance of Syria's plan to launch a chemical weapons attack on its own citizens.
And as the men entered a day of tense talks, Putin admitted that relations between Washington and Moscow have worsened in the three months that Trump has been in office.
"What we do know, and we have very firm and high confidence in our conclusions, that the attack was planned and carried out by the regime forces at the direction of Bashar al-Assad". But "with its veto, Russian Federation said no to accountability".
The presidents of the United States and Russian Federation on Wednesday both presented souring views of the relationship between their two countries. Russian Federation suspended the "deconfliction" line after the US airstrike.
That amounted to the following offer: Be nice, Assad, distance yourself from Iran and we'll accept a solution to the Syrian civil war that leaves you in power.
"It is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end".
Beyond Syria, Russia's alleged meddling in the USA presidential election also hovered over what was the first face-to-face encounter between Putin and any Trump administration Cabinet member.
'Our view is that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end and they have brought that on themselves with their conduct, ' the top US diplomat said.
"I complained about that a long time ago", Trump said, "and they changed".
Mr Lavrov said: "We have many times said that we are ready for constructive dialogue on equal terms with the United States".
He also rejected American claims of certain evidence that Assad ordered the chemical attack.
Still, Tillerson sought to stress the positives from his meetings.
A bilateral "working group" will attempt to chip away at "smaller issues" of conflict, Tillerson and Lavrov said. -Russian ties and identify problems.
The United States intercepted communications between Syrian military and chemical weapons experts discussing plans for a poison gas attack in Idlib province, CNN reported, citing an unidentified senior intelligence official.
But such hopes appeared optimistic as the diplomats outlined their sharply diverging views on Syria.
While the most immediate U.S. -Russian disagreements over the chemical attack that left more than 80 dead. As for a possible meeting between Mr Putin and Mr Trump: "I don't think we're there yet".
Russia's foreign minister says Moscow expects the United Nations' chemical weapons watchdog to conduct an extensive probe into last week's chemical attack in Syria.
Trump and others have indeed threatened similar action. The spectacle of men, women and children suffering the egregious effects of sarin gas - many clinging to life, dozens already dead - is as haunting as anything we've witnessed from that chaotic region.
He again called on alliance members to spend 2% of their GDP on defence within a decade, saying they "must pay what they owe".