What will change Pompeo's visit to Russia?
The talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have started in Russia's Sochi.
Opening talks with Pompeo, Lavrov said he expects to hammer out specific proposals aimed at improving Russian-U.S. relations during talks with Pompeo. "I hope that today we will be able to hammer out specific proposals aimed at steering Russian-American relations out of the current sad state, in which they ended up for various objective and subjective reasons," TASS cited the Russian top diplomat as saying.
Lavrov stressed that Moscow and Washington should start building more constructive relations. "We understand that both sides have accumulated numerous suspicions and biases. We will not gain anything from it. Mutual escalation will increase risks for our and your security and draw alarm from the global community," he noted.
"It is time to start building a new, more responsible constructive matrix of mutual perception of each other. We are ready for it, of course, if our American partners also show interest," the Russian foreign minister added.
"It’s great to see you again, twice in a couple of weeks," Pompeo said addressing Lavrov. "I’m likely to see you at the G20. We’ll have many more opportunities for conversation," he pointed out.
Responding to Lavrov's opening remarks, Pompeo said: "I'm here today because President Trump is committed to improving this relationship. We have differences and each country will protect its own interests, look out for its own interests of its people."
"But it's not destined that we're adversaries on all issues and I hope that we can find places where we have a set of overlapping interests and continue to build out strong relationships, at least on those particular issues," Pompeo said.
Pompeo identified counter-terrorism and combatting nuclear proliferation as two areas where Moscow and Washington could find common ground.
Lavrov and Pompeo earlier held a meeting on the sidelines of the Arctic Council’s session in Finland’s Rovaniemi on May 6. Their talks lasted about an hour and, in Lavrov’s words, helped enhance the progress stemming from the May 3 conversation between the two countries’ presidents.
Director of the Institute of Political Studies Sergei Markov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that Pompeo's visit is held against the backdrop of opposition between the "deep state" and U.S. President Donald Trump. "The U.S. president practically have no ability to pursue foreign policy related to Russia, since he is under severe pressure from the Democratic Party and the "deep state". Now, after Muller’s report, Trump may have a theoretical opportunity to act independently," he said.
"Ukraine-gate is now unfolding in the United States: there have been four major corruption scandals. First, the U.S. State Department Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker apparently took bribes from Poroshenko. Second, Donald Trump’s main rival, Joe Biden, illegally obtained the dismissal of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, who began investigating the Burisma company, from which Joe Biden’s son received $3 million. Third, on the initiative of Donald Trump's opponents, data about Yanukovych’s money were falsified, due to which the persecution of Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was started. Fourth, the embezzlement of American grants that came to Kiev under the control of Ambassador Mary Jovanovitch, also one of Trump's opponents, was discovered," Sergei Markov listed.
"Unfortunately, more major scandals revealing of the activities of the 'deep state' are needed to make the U.S. make some steps," the Director of the Institute of Political Studies concluded.
The head of the Center for Applied Research of the Institute for US and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Pavel Sharikov, in turn, noted that the overall level of relations between Moscow and Washington is very low now, many problems have been accumulated. "I think that a visit and a dialogue are always better than a lack of contacts. The fact that such a meeting is taking place is objectively good, especially since many unplanned factors interfere in contacts," he said.
"Should we expect any changes in our relations? I think it's unlikely. Any external factors may interfere with the activity of the U.S. Congress - always when such high-level contacts occur, the Congress introduces new sanctions or takes anti-Russian decisions. It is not clear how the American establishment will respond to Pompeo's meetings in Sochi. In any case, this is some kind of movement, and it could either positive or not," Pavel Sharikov noted.