US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

15.05.2019

Mike Pompeo's visit to Russia was more concise than originally planned. The US Secretary of State canceled a trip to Moscow, leaving only Sochi on his work schedule. Here he waited a difficult day. First, negotiations with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, which lasted more than three hours. And this is despite the fact that quite recently in Finnish Rovaniemi they have already met. True. then, on May 6, they managed to talk for only about an hour.

Lavrov met the American guest in the sanatorium "Rus". It was originally planned that the press conference on the results of the talks would take place after the meeting of Pompeo with Vladimir Putin, but the Russian president was detained due to important military meetings in Akhtubinsk. In order not to waste time, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the US Secretary of State went out to journalists before heading to the Bocharov Ruchei residence.

Reciprocal Claims

From the press conference of Lavrov and Pompeo, it became clear why the negotiations went on for so long. The meeting touched upon a wide range of topics. Russia and the United States traditionally have something to argue about, and in today's realities, the list of issues of interest to both parties is particularly long. Starting from Russian-American relations and ending with the situation in Ukraine. The Iranian nuclear program, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, arms control, the political crisis in Venezuela are only the most significant points.

The US is still concerned about the situation with the so-called Russian intervention in the American elections. According to Pompeo, if what happened in 2016 is repeated in 2020, then “the relationship will become even worse.” One can only be amazed in a good sense of Lavrov’s excerpt, which for the third year has to repeat the same thing: imagine the facts, then let's talk “like an adult”.

At the same time, Moscow has its own claims to Washington. Lavrov gave Pompeo an unofficial memorandum, which lists examples of US interference in the internal affairs of Russia. A special place among them is given to the financing of democracy promotion in Russia spelled out in the law on the support of freedom in Ukraine. The document states that the state secretary is charged with doing this, working both directly and with Russian government organizations. For these purposes, according to Lavrov, the US Congress allocates $ 20 million annually.

Friendly atmosphere

The parties also paid special attention to areas where the two countries need to establish more productive cooperation. First of all it concerns business and the humanitarian sphere. The Russian Foreign Minister recalled that Moscow supported the establishment of a business group for the development of economic cooperation and the convening of an expert council that could take up the strategy for developing relations between the two countries. Both points were approved by Putin and Trump as early as July 2018 at a meeting in Helsinki, but the matter did not move.

It is also noted that the meeting itself was held in a friendlier atmosphere than expected. Fears were associated with statements by the US Secretary of State on the eve of his visit to Sochi. So, in an interview with CNBC, he called “nonsense” statements that US President Donald Trump is not “tough” in relation to Russia. Separately, he singled out the disagreements of the two countries on Venezuela, calling the political crisis in the Bolivarian Republic “a difficult topic”.

Russian Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov talked about how the one and a half hour talks between Vladimir Putin and Mike Pompeo took place. According to him, the parties mainly discussed international policy issues (Syria, Venezuela, North Korea), as well as arms control. The Russian leader made it clear that Moscow is committed to a dialogue on all aspects of this problem, including treaties on the reduction of offensive weapons (START) and on the reduction of medium-range and shorter-range missiles (INF).

However, all this looks no more than a declaration of its own positions, which the parties already know very well. Perhaps that is why Yury Ushakov noted that some kind of "breakthrough did not happen." The conversation was substantive, but without any significant results that could have a significant impact on Russian-American relations. The main thing is that both countries are ready to “restore communication channels” in order to normalize these relations in the future.

Also, the presidential aide said that Putin and Pompeo briefly touched on the topic of US sanctions against Russia. The general meaning of the position of the Kremlin remains unchanged: it is impossible to introduce restrictive measures against our country, and then ask us to do something beneficial for the United States in the international arena. It also became known that the President of Russia and the US Secretary of State did not discuss Ukraine, Venezuela and the case of Baring Vostok.

Later, Pompeo himself positively assessed past meetings with Lavrov and Putin. He noted that their main result was a “step forward” in relations between the two countries. “The United States and Russia in the past have already demonstrated the possibility of joint cooperation on key issues. We urge Russia to work with us to change the trajectories of relations for the benefit of the peoples of both countries, ”the US Secretary of State wrote on Twitter.

Will there be a meeting?

While Donald Trump declares that he is ready to meet with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, the Russian Foreign Ministry noted that there was no official proposal on this score. However, according to Sergey Lavrov, if such a request is received, the answer will be positive.

However, whether the meeting will take place is still unclear. Although Pompeo’s visit to Sochi is perceived by many as the preparation of the Russian-American summit, in the States themselves not everyone is happy with the potential normalization of relations with Moscow. Trump was attacked after the last meeting with Putin, and on the eve of a new election campaign, opponents of the head of the White House did not disappear anywhere. The publication of the report by Special Prosecutor Robert Muller markedly inspired the American leader, but he still had to look around in search of the next dirty trick.