Rex Tillerson has been ousted from Donald Trump's White House, the US President revealed in a tweet this afternoon.
He will be replaced in the secretary of state role by Mike Pompeo, currently director of the CIA. Gina Haspel will in turn take over Pompeo's job, becoming the first woman to hold the role in the process.
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
Tillerson's removal from the US administration comes after he blasted Russia over its suspected involvement with the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury earlier this month.
The former Exxon Mobil boss, who was appointed to Trump's staff in December 2016, said he had "full confidence in the UK's investigation and its assessment", adding "we are outraged that Russia appears to have again engaged in such behaviour".
Tillerson said: "From Ukraine to Syria - and now the UK - Russia continues to be an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens."
He said those responsible - not just those who carried out the attack using nerve agent Novichok, but also those who ordered it "must face appropriately serious consequences".
"We stand in solidarity with our allies in the United Kingdom and will continue to coordinate closely our responses," he added.
His comments contrasted with the President’s press secretary Sarah Sanders' repeated refusal to assign blame to Russia. During a standard press briefing, Sanders said the US was "standing with our UK ally" but when pressed, insisted that "they’re still working through even some of the details".