The Straits Times has published a 'response' by journalist Anne Applebaum, Censor.NET reports.
"If Mr Tillerson were a different person and this were a different historical moment, we could forget about this odd dropped comment and move on. But Mr Tillerson has an unusual background for a secretary of state. Unlike everyone who has held the job for at least the past century, he has no experience in diplomacy, politics or the military; instead he has spent his life extracting oil and selling it for profit. At that he was successful. But no one knows whether he can change his value system to focus instead on the very different task of selling something intangible - American values - to maximise something even more intangible: American influence," Applebaum wrote.
"The switch is harder than it seems: Values and influence cannot be measured like money. They cannot be achieved through cost-cutting or efficiency; they cannot be promoted using the tactics of corporate PR. ...
"Mr Tillerson's question, rhetorical or otherwise, therefore deserves a response. For the answer is yes: U.S. taxpayers should be interested in Ukraine. But not necessarily for reasons that would make sense to an oil company's CEO.
"Why? It's an explanation that cannot be boiled down to bullet points or a chart, or even reflected in numbers at all. I'm not even sure it can be done in a few paragraphs, but here goes. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea in 2014 were an open attack on the principle of border security in Europe....
"U.S. companies do billions of dollars of business in Europe; U.S. leaders have long been able to count on European support all over the world, in matters economic, political, scientific and more. It's not a perfect alliance but it is an unusual alliance, one that is held together by shared values as well as common interests. If Ukraine, a country of about 43 million people, were permanently affiliated with Europe, it too might become part of this zone of peace, trade and commerce," the author argues.
"Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, an aggressive, emboldened Russia increasingly threatens European security and prosperity, as well as Europe's alliance with the US. Russia supports anti-American, anti-Nato and indeed anti-democratic political candidates all across the continent; Russia seeks business and political allies who will help promote its companies and turn a blind eye to its corrupt practices. Over the long term, these policies threaten US business interests and US political interests all across the continent and around the world.
"But I must concede: There is no calculation, no balance sheet that can prove any of this. There is nothing that would appeal to a CEO or his shareholders. Whatever we have "invested" in Ukraine - loans, via the International Monetary Fund, or aid - will not show an immediate profit. To see the value of a secure, pro-Western Ukraine, you have to see the value of an alliance going back 70 years. And to preserve this alliance, you have to advocate it, work on it, invest time and maybe even money in it, too," Applebaum says.
Last week, Tillerson's question was responded by U.S. diplomat, president of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass.