Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Russia for the first time and meets with Putin.
US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, visited Russia on Tuesday for the first time after Robert Mueller’s investigation concluded that there was no collusion of President Donald Trump’s team with Russia. Pompeo has met Vladimir Putin and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. The two parties expressed their intention to seek an improvement in relations, but the diplomatic meeting showed the serious divergences in the crises in Iran, Syria, Venezuela or on the subject of political interference.
At the beginning of his conversations in Sochi, Pompeo declared that he was in Russia “because President Trump is determined to improve relations with Russia.” Later, the Russian president has said he believes Trump has a sincere intention to restore bilateral relations and has been willing to collaborate in relation to North Korea, Afghanistan and also advance strategic dialogue.
However, the conversations have shown the multiple friction fronts. “The United States and more than 50 countries believe that it is time for [Nicolás] Maduro to leave so that the suffering of the people of Venezuela will end. We hope that Russian support to Maduro ceases, “said Pompeo, although everything indicates that Moscow is not willing to abandon its ally and there are even those who say that it could send more military advisers to Venezuela. Lavrov has responded that “a democracy can not be established by force”.
As for Iran, an ally of Russia in Syria, the secretary of state has ensured that the US will continue to “exert pressure on the Tehran regime until its leaders are prepared to return to the ranks of responsible nations that do not threaten their neighbors. nor do they spread instability and terror. ” And although he has stressed that he does not want war with that country, he has warned that they will respond adequately if US interests are threatened.
Lavrov, meanwhile, has noted the differences that exist around Iran, but has been more optimistic, arguing that “the mere fact of continuing negotiations allows us to hope to reach certain agreements.”
The list of discrepancies continued. Lavrov has referred to the differences between Moscow and Washington regarding the nuclear stop treaty NEW START, which the Kremlin wants to prolong when the agreement expires, within two years. On this subject, for Pompeo, however, it would be desirable to incorporate the talks on nuclear disarmament to other countries, especially China. But Beijing is not in principle for the work.
Pompeo has taken advantage of the visit to Russia to warn that Washington will not tolerate new interference in the electoral process for the presidential 2020. Russian officials, as they have been doing for years, have denied being immersed in any activity in that field.
In Sochi, the secretary of state has appealed to Moscow to release the Ukrainian sailors imprisoned since November after the incident in the Kerch Strait – in which a Russian vessel blocked the passage of three ships of the Ukrainian Navy -, what would allow to begin positively the relations with the new elect president Volodímir Zelenski.
Despite the large and numerous differences observed, there is optimism about the future of relations between both countries. “After the report of special prosecutor Robert Mueller was published recently, I hope that the passions calm down on the other side and that we can finally move forward in creating a more constructive relationship and a professional dialogue between Russia and the United States. “, Said Lavrov.
The Russian minister is not the only one in thinking like that; many remember that Donald Trump, before being elected president, had praised Putin, but after assuming in the White House relations with Moscow, far from improving, worsened. With the end of Mueller’s investigation, the pressures on Trump subside. So much so that, at the beginning of his conversations in Sochi, Pompeo declared: “Today I am here because President Trump is determined to improve relations with Russia.”
Lavrov lamented that the tension between Moscow and Washington has a negative influence on the world situation, so it is time, he said, to take concrete steps to relax relations, despite the “suspicions and suspicions” that exist in both parts.
Pompeo and Lavrov have agreed on the need to re-establish channels of communication between the parties, and the head of Russian diplomacy has indicated that the creation of Russian-American non-governmental and commercial councils would help to dispel the existing mutual distrust.