"Have they started blaming Russia yet for the Washington staff changes?" Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova tells reporters, while Germany's deputy foreign minister expresses concern at the departure of Rex Tillerson.

In this file photo taken on November 30, 2017, former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson heads to a bilateral meeting with Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel after posing for photos at the State Department in Washington, DC.
In this file photo taken on November 30, 2017, former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson heads to a bilateral meeting with Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel after posing for photos at the State Department in Washington, DC. (AFP)

Russia issued a mocking reaction to the surprise sacking of Rex Tillerson as secretary of State, with a foreign ministry spokeswoman asking if the finger of blame was already being pointed at Moscow.

"Have they started blaming Russia yet for the Washington staff changes?" foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a text message sent to AFP.

She did not immediately make any additional comments.

In a shocking move, US President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he has fired US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and is replacing him with Mike Pompeo, currently the CIA director.

UK hopes excellent relationship

One of US' close allies, Britain is looking forward to continuing good relations with the newly appointed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday.

"We are grateful for the excellent relationship and cooperation that we have had with Rex Tillerson and look forward to that continuing under the new US secretary of state," the spokesman told reporters.

Germany expresses concern

Meanwhile, German officials have expressed concern at the departure of Rex Tillerson.

Michael Roth, a deputy foreign minister, posted Tuesday on Twitter: "The firing of Rex Tillerson won't make things better..."

Centre-left lawmaker Thomas Oppermann described Tillerson as "a reliable, intelligent interlocutor" whose departure would be a "further setback for German-American relations."

Oppermann, who is deputy speaker of Parliament, said Trump's decision showed the US president was "capricious and erratic."

"Great decision"

The United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley hails Mike Pompeo as a "great decision" for next secretary of state.

Haley, who had her own contentious relationship with ousted Tillerson, congratulated Pompeo in a tweet and called him her "friend."

She wrote, "Great decision by the President."

Over months of speculation about Tillerson's future, Haley had been rumoured as one possible successor.

US-Russia relations

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he hopes Pompeo will "turn over a new leaf" as secretary of state and toughen policies toward Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.

Schumer says with the firing of Tillerson, "instability of this administration in just about every area weakens America."

Pompeo would need to be confirmed by the Senate. But Republicans have just a slim 51-seat majority, and confirmation is not certain.

Schumer says, "If he's confirmed, we hope that Mr Pompeo will turn over a new leaf and will start toughening up our policies towards Russia and Putin."

Surprise move

Senator Bob Corker, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, says President Donald Trump's decision to fire his chief diplomat caught him by surprise.

The Tennessee Republican, who has been Rex Tillerson's most vocal supporter on Capitol Hill, acknowledged, "there's been tensions" between Tillerson and Trump.

But he says, it had seemed "that they had learned to work together a little bit better."

Corker said he didn't know what precipitated the firing.

In early October, Corker had said that Tillerson, along with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, are "those people that help separate our country from chaos."

On Tuesday, Corker said, "I have a lot of faith in Tillerson's judgment. I've shared that with the president many times."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies