Lavrov found a common language with American "hawks".
May 20, 2021.
For the first time, Sergei Lavrov held face-to-face talks with his colleague Anthony Blinken, during which the problems of strategic stability and issues of the regional level were raised. At the same time, the nature and tone of assessments of the past meeting by Moscow and Washington turned out to be completely different. What exactly is this difference and how will the talks that have been held affect the preparations for the summit of Presidents Putin and Biden?
The day before , the first face-to-face meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken took place in the Icelandic capital . Lavrov assessed the negotiations as useful, and also spoke about the results of the meeting with the US Secretary of State and the agreements reached.
“We confirmed our proposal to start a dialogue, considering all aspects, all factors affecting strategic stability: nuclear, non-nuclear, offensive, defensive. I have not seen a rejection of such a concept, but the experts still have to work on this, ”the Foreign Minister noted.
“We agreed to continue our joint actions, which are developing quite successfully, in regional conflicts where the interests of the United States and Russia coincide. This is both the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula and the situation with the efforts to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program. This is Afghanistan, where the expanded "troika" of Russia, China, the United States and Pakistan is actively working. And they said how at this stage we can make all our joint actions more effective, ”Lavrov said.
He noted that following the talks, the respective reports will be prepared for the presidents of both countries. “We will report, and the presidents, I hope, will determine further ways to correct the obviously unhealthy situation in bilateral relations,” the minister added.
The US State Department also summed up the results of the meeting, revealing some aspects of the negotiations. At the same time, after the talks, Blinken said that the purpose of his meeting with Lavrov was to " test the proposal" on more stable and predictable US-Russian relations. At the same time, Lavrov, answering the question of whether Moscow agreed to a meeting between the presidents of Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, noted that "we are not customs to give the go-ahead."
Later, the official representative of the Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, noted the constructive nature of the meeting between Lavrov and Blinken. "The press present at this meeting - American, Russian, local journalists - they were somewhat discouraged by how constructively it began," Zakharova said.
“The meeting between Sergei Lavrov and Anthony Blinken initially did not arouse much hope. In fact, miracles did not happen either. Blinken frankly wrote on his Twitter that he was only testing proposals for establishing stable and predictable relations with Russia. And here it is meant that these were not his proposals, ” American political scientist Dmitry Drobnitsky told the VZGLYAD newspaper .
The expert drew attention to the words of Blinken about the readiness of the United States to act decisively in protecting "national interests" in response to Russia's actions. The US also touched upon the topics of Ukraine, Radio Liberty * and the health of blogger Alexei Navalny. “Judging by these reports, Blinken is ready to add a lot to the existing problems between Russia and the United States,” the interlocutor believes, noting the propaganda nature of the statements of the head of the State Department.
“Lavrov, in turn, called this meeting constructive. Our diplomats, as always, have a glimmer of hope that the rubble in bilateral relations will be cleared up. Moreover, all these obstructions were created even before Biden came to the White House by the forces of Congress and the Washington bureaucracy, ”the expert added.
“In addition, the American side has not announced any specific actions to ensure strategic stability. Lavrov said, as always, something clever, kind and eternal. It can be said that the parties exchanged views in a benevolent manner and parted ways. And I don’t understand what could have been gained from the meeting at this stage, other than discussing a possible summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, ”the political scientist believes.
“The summit will be organized by US President’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev. In the coming days, they should meet in one of the European cities. And the point is not even that politicians have no confidence in diplomats, but that Blinken was removed from this task because of his tough position on the Russian direction. Yes, as the head of the diplomatic department, he can talk to Lavrov, but at the same time he personifies the most hawkish faction in the United States, ”Drobnitsky explained.
As an example, the interlocutor cited the situation with sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 operator Nord Stream 2 AG. “This is a delightful move - on the eve of the meeting between Lavrov and Blinken, the State Department is imposing sanctions, and the White House is suspending them. That is, Blinken has worked out his agenda, and the White House has worked out his own agenda, ”the expert said.
“On the whole, this meeting confirmed my concerns about the dichotomy and lack of unity in the American administration. Therefore, when we say that a dialogue took place between Russia and the United States, we actually mean that Russia spoke with one of the representatives of the clan of the split Washington administration. Soon Patrushev will talk to a representative of another clan. It is not easy for our diplomats, because we have to keep in mind that they are talking not with a single administration, but with clans that are also opposing each other. This is the problem, ”the expert complained.
Political scientist-Americanist Boris Mezhuev has a different opinion. According to him, the tone and nature of the statements of Lavrov and Blinken differed "for one specific reason." “Foreign ministers are obliged to take into account the internal political situation in their country. Lavrov is optimistic because he is not afraid of accusations of surrendering Russia's national interests to the Americans. At the same time, Blinken is in a different situation, ”the interlocutor is sure.
“He feared accusations because of yesterday's scandal over the refusal of sanctions against Nord Stream 2. Hence Blinken's rhetorical harshness, and his messages on social networks that the meeting was preliminary, and the words that he was only trying to find out proposals for establishing stable and predictable relations with Russia, "the expert explained.
“But if the State Department is justified, this is a positive moment, which means the process of preparing a meeting between Putin and Biden. On the other hand, so far no one has directly confirmed that the decision on the summit has been made. Obviously, there are still issues that need to be worked out and agreed upon, ”Mezhuev suggested. He also predicted that the "hitch" could be associated with Ukraine, "since this problem cannot be circumvented, and it is hardly possible to reach a compromise."
“But one should not expect any breakthroughs from the summit. Now Russia and the United States have two folders: large and small.
The first includes topics on which our countries can agree: the Iranian nuclear deal, Afghanistan, Syria, climate, the Arctic and, to some extent, the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh, ”the political scientist enumerates.
“On the contrary, a small folder contains all the problems on which the disagreements of the parties reach the highest acuteness: from Ukraine and NATO expansion to Nord Stream 2 and blogger Navalny. So yesterday Lavrov and Blinken, in fact, proposed not to mix the contents of these folders, focusing only on the “big folder,” the source said.
“Thus, the rest of the questions will simply be“ frozen ”. I think that by doing so Lavrov and Blinken laid a good foundation for further negotiations on the organization of the summit of the two presidents, and Sullivan and Patrushev will deal with this issue in the near future, ”adds Mezhuev.
Meanwhile, the American media assess the meeting between Lavrov and Blinken positively. “The heads of diplomatic departments stressed that both countries, which confronted each other during the Cold War, continue to have serious disagreements about how world problems should be resolved, but set a positive tone for the negotiations, indicating that both sides are still able to find ways interaction ", - quoted by the TV channel CNBC TASS .
According to the Associated Press, Lavrov and Blinken "entered into a polite verbal duel." "A senior Biden administration official called the meeting a 'good start' without 'polemics', which allowed both sides to tentatively consider a wide range of issues that both presidents could discuss at the summit," AP said.
“In the weeks ahead, Blinken and Lavrov greeted each other warmly, both of them showed determination in their opening remarks, with a warm tone. Lavrov, a veteran of international diplomacy, noted that both sides need to be open, "Politico summarizes.
Text: Elena Leksina