Pompeo to meet in Sochi with Putin and Lavrov on Tuesday

Mike Pompeo, Sergey Lavrov hold joint press conference in Russia

Pompeo to meet in Sochi with Putin and Lavrov on Tuesday

Pompeo to meet in Sochi with Putin and Lavrov on Tuesday

Moscow part of US Secretary of State’s visit to Russia canceled

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Pompeo’s visit to Russia will take place against the backdrop of fundamental disagreements between the two countries on a number of issues, including the situation in Venezuela and Iran, as well as over Russia’s interference in the US elections in 2016.

Pompeo began his trip to Europe on Sunday, taking off from Andrews Air Force Base near Washington. For him, this will be the first visit to Russia as the head of American diplomacy..

Earlier it was reported that the US Secretary of State intended to meet with American diplomats and businessmen in Moscow, as well as to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. However, on Sunday evening, Reuters reported, citing an anonymous State Department official, that Pompeo had canceled the Moscow portion of his visit to Russia and would fly straight to Sochi, where he would hold talks with Lavrov on Tuesday and possibly meet with Vladimir Putin..

Prior to that, Pompeo, according to a Reuters report, will hold talks in Brussels on Monday with European officials over the situation around Iran and other issues..

Senior officials in the United States, including Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence, accuse Russia of opposing the democratically elected opposition leader, Venezuelan interim President Juan Guaido, attempts to overthrow the Nicolas Maduro regime..

The US also accuses Russia of trying to gain a foothold in the Western Hemisphere through Venezuela.

“We are concerned about Russia’s actions in Venezuela and believe that supporting Maduro is a losing bet. Therefore, we will continue to support the Venezuelan people, and this will be a topic for discussion, ”a senior State Department official said the other day..

The official declined to say whether a meeting between Trump and Putin is planned on the sidelines of the G20 summit, which will be held in Osaka, Japan, in a few weeks, and in which both leaders intend to attend..

The State Department said Pompeo is expected to raise the issue of Americans in Russian custody, including former Marine Paul Whelan and Baring Vostok investment fund founder Michael Calvey..

Whelan is charged with espionage, which he denies. He must remain under arrest until May 28, while investigators continue to study his case..

Calvey was arrested in February and is awaiting trial on fraud charges he denies..

“The Administration prioritizes the safety and well-being of US citizens overseas. We are ready to provide the necessary consular assistance in cases of detention of American citizens, ”said a senior State Department official..

Last month, US Ambassador to Russia John Huntsman visited Whelan in a Moscow detention center. US diplomats called on Moscow to “stop playing games”, saying the Russian authorities are likely trying to get Whelan to force a false “confession”.

Expert comments

Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) Andrey Kortunov in a commentary for the Russian service of the Voice of America, he noted that the very fact of such a dialogue is important and positive. This is Pompeo’s first visit in his current capacity to Russia, he recalled..

“Establishing contacts at the level of foreign ministers is simply necessary for a normal dialogue between the two countries,” the political scientist stated. “For the last six months, in fact, it all came down to irregular meetings between Bolton and Patrushev”.

Pompeo to meet in Sochi with Putin and Lavrov on Tuesday

According to the Director General of the RIAC, the agenda is “roughly clear”: “There is a block of issues related to arms limitation and arms control. The future of START-3 and the upcoming review conference on nonproliferation, the consequences of the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty, a possible new dialogue on achieving strategic stability. There is a regional agenda: Venezuela, Syria, Iran, North Korea. And there are questions regarding the normalization of bilateral relations: the end of the “ambassadorial war”, the restoration of the full functioning of diplomatic missions, the resumption of contacts at different levels – expert, parliamentary, military “.

Andrey Kortunov believes that “everything will revolve” around this.

At the same time, he believes that the US Secretary of State did not accidentally change the geography of his trip: “This shows how important the Iranian topic is for the White House. Pompeo stopped in Brussels to try to convince European allies of the validity of the American course and to support US efforts to increase pressure on Iran. The latest decision of Tehran, naturally, should have caused some concern, including in Washington “.

Moreover, concern, perhaps not so much about the next steps of the Iranian leadership, as about a possible reaction to these steps by other participants in the multilateral agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program, including Russia, the political scientist said..

In turn, the director of the Franklin Roosevelt Foundation for the Study of the United States Yuri rogulev believes that since the initiative for the visit of Secretary of State Pompeo comes from Washington, Moscow is not at all sure how it could end.

“In principle, it is noticeable that President Trump would like to have a working relationship with Vladimir Putin, exchange views with him on various sensitive issues,” he added in a comment to the Russian service of the Voice of America. “In addition, there are topical bilateral issues that have been postponed so far, and there are no negotiations on them. I mean the problem of nuclear strategic weapons. Both are on the agenda “.

At the same time, the Americanist found it difficult to say what can be expected without preliminary preparation of such a visit. As he sees it, one of the most pressing problems today is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula: “We see that the situation here is aggravating, Pyongyang has again resumed missile launches, and the issue is again in limbo. Trump has already stated after a telephone conversation with Putin that Russia is ready to assist in solving this problem. Some progress could be expected here. “.

The rest of the problems are more complicated, Yuri Rogulev believes. The Iranian problem, in his opinion, was created by the United States: “It is man-made, and now we need to somehow get out of the situation. As for arms control, we see that the United States has withdrawn from a number of treaties and agreements with Russia and does not consider it necessary for itself to negotiate on this topic – in particular, on strategic weapons. The dialogue must be resumed here “.

Pompeo to meet in Sochi with Putin and Lavrov on Tuesday

However, to what extent this corresponds to the wishes of the Trump administration, the talks in Sochi will show, summed up the director of the Franklin Roosevelt Foundation for the Study of the United States..

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