Yuri Rogulev: "Tillerson's meeting with Lavrov and Putin was Moscow's acquaintance with new Washington"
Yesterday, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has completed his visit to Moscow. The head of US diplomacy was received not only by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, but also by President Vladimir Putin. In total, the meetings lasted about seven hours, during which the Secretary of State, the Minister and the President managed to discuss all the key issues of bilateral cooperation in the international arena. The director of the Roosevelt Fund of Study of the US at Moscow State University, Yuri Rogulyov, told Vestnik Kavkaza about the results of this meeting.
- In your estimation, what was the main result of Rex Tillerson's talks in the Foreign Ministry and the Kremlin?
- The main result is an acquaintance with the positions of both sides. I think that our side tried to explain the Russian position to Rex Tillerson and, accordingly, to President Donald Trump, and we also heard American opinions. Of course, this visit was rather fact-finding, because even the delegation of the State Department arrived at not full strength. The fact is that Tillerson has not yet appointed all his employees, including those who would be responsible for the policy towards Russia. In this sense, it was difficult to expect any agreements on specific issues. Nevertheless, some things were achieved: the parties agreed to restore the memorandum on flight safety over Syria, it was decided to establish a special group to engage in unleashing knots in the Russian-US relations. The acknowledgement that these relations should be moved from the dead end is also important.
- Initially, Rex Tillerson's meeting with Vladimir Putin was not planned. In your estimation, what could contribute to the president's decision to meet with the Secretary of State?
- It was not planned in advance, but its possibility was not denied, the issue was left open. The fact is that the Russian side did not fully understand Tillerson's intentions, as various threats, ultimatums and promise of sanctions were sounded on the eve. During the talks, there were no threats and sanctions, apparently, therefore, the negotiations were of a more normal, working and positive character, so it was considered possible to organize a meeting in the Kremlin.
- Were any opportunities created during the talks to restore the Russian-US dialogue?
- There was only one possibility: the decision to create two working groups, the appointment of special people, who would consider and solve both small and large problems of Russian-US relations. This inspires some hope for the continuation of the dialogue - the parties did not demonstrated a desire to get into their shells, but a desire to continue the dialogue and try to solve all the existing problems.
The continuation of the dialogue is much better than what we saw under Obama, when the contacts on important issues were broken off one after the other, stopping any interaction. It seems to me that the working group will be able to create some agenda, and it will be very important. Without an agenda it is difficult to talk about any kind of top-level meetings, meetings between presidents. I don't know whether they will be able to work it out, but the attempt is made, and this is an important step.
- In your opinion, how positive was the reaction to these negotiations from the US side, including from Donald Trump?
- Donald Trump praises any actions of his administration to heaven. He said that is was a wonderful meeting, tremendous success and so on, although he added that he would wait for the arrival of the Secretary of State and discuss everything with him in detail. As for the US press, there are moods from restrained optimism to denial of any results, regarding the fact that the parties have retained their positions, and these positions are far from each other.