US starts secret talks with Russia
The US delegation asked to hold a closed-door meeting with the Russian State Duma deputies today.
The lower house of the parliament said that the US side asked them to allow only an official photo session at the meeting. "We met them halfway, given that the very formulation of the issue speaks about the need for a serious conversation," TASS cited chairman of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin as saying.
On the Russian side, the meeting will be attended by First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Alexander Zhukov, special representative of the State Duma in international inter-parliamentary and public organizations on the development of sports, Vyacheslav Fetisov, coordinator of the US Congressional Relations Group Inga Yumasheva, chairman of the committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the committee on financial markets Anatoly Aksakov, chairman of the committee on agrarian issues Vladimir Kashin, chairman of the committee on education and science Vyacheslav Nikonov.
The US delegation consists of Alabama Senator and Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Richard Shelby, Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, South Dakota Senator John Thune, Kansas Senator Jerry Moran, Montana Senator Steve Daines, as well as member of the US House of Representatives from Texas Kay Granger.
The US congressional delegation arrived in Russia on June 30. Their first visit has been to St. Petersburg. They then came to Moscow, where they will stay until July 5.
US President Donald Trump plans to meet one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the start of their summit in Helsinki, according to a person familiar with the plans, before allowing other aides to join the highly anticipated encounter with the Russian leader, CNN reported.
During Trump's historic summit with Kim Jong Un last month, Trump met for about an hour with just the North Korean dictator, joined only by their translators.
The Kremlin press service earlier said that the summit of Russian and US Presidents will be held in Helsinki on July 16. The two leaders are expected to discuss the current state and prospects of further development of Russian-US relations and also vital issues of the international agenda.
The director of the Roosevelt Fund of Study of the US at Moscow State University, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Yuri Rogulev, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the senators preferred to hold a close meeting because of the negative role of the media in the Russian-US dialogue. "Lately, relations between our countries have been clarified not through personal meetings, but through the media - false news and all sorts of unverified information were spread. Therefore, Trump wants there were no fake news about his talks, and the senators also do not need preconceived interpretations of their conversations with Russian deputies in the media. After all, he senators' visit is not welcomed by the central US media," he explained.
At the same time, neither Trump nor the senators risk any political losses due to closed negotiations with the Russian authorities. "Trump is well aware that his meeting with Vladimir Putin will not be welcomed by the Washington establishment, but he goes all the way deliberately. He proceeds from the fact that the program for normalizing relations with Russia was voiced during the electoral campaign, and it did not prevent him from winning elections, which means that broad sections of the population support such a normalization," Yuri Rogulev pointed out.
"The goal of both the meeting between Putin and Trump and the visit of the senators to Russia is to find out Russia's real position and a real situation in Moscow without unnecessary information noise. Perhaps, Trump is quite ready to come to some sort of arrangement, but if this is announced in advance, and the media will be admitted to the negotiations, it will certainly try to prevent dialogue," the director of the Roosevelt Fund of Study of the US at Moscow State University concluded.
The head of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Academy of Sciences of Russia, Sergei Oznobishchev, linked the closed nature of the meetings between the Russian and US authorities with the political situation in the United States. "Talking about the normalization of relations with Russia is very unpopular, it's a certain risk for Trump. In addition, global political issues are always resolved on the basis of compromise, but nobody likes to recognize this fact," he said.
Among the most important topics at these closed meetings is US activity in the post-Soviet space. The expert said that Moscow is worried when the US reaches the CIS. "The expansion of NATO is a politically very nervous issue as well, and it needs to be solved with the US in the first place. For Trump it is extremely unprofitable to recognize that Crimea belongs to Russia in front of journalists," Sergei Oznobishchev said.
"We have accumulated a very large volume of 'cold war' stratifications, now they have to be shoveled out on the basis of agreements, including the issues of reduction or limitation of armaments. There are many complex aspects in this topic that are inconvenient for open discussion," the head of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Academy of Sciences of Russia added.