Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov met with the US President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington on May 10, in what was described by Trump as a “very, very good” meeting.
At the press conference after the get-together, the Russian and Western press focused on the infamous shrewdness of Kremlin’s top diplomat and his “toying” with journalists attempting to bring up the Russian election-meddling controversy, which culminated this week with the firing of the FBI chief James Comey.
Lavrov retorted sardonically that it must be “humiliating for the American people to realise that the Russian Federation is controlling the situation in America”. He then added: “I believe that poiticians are damaging the political system of the US.”
Notably, Lavrov and his US counterparts did not officially report on any discussions about the sanctions against Russia during their meeting. Lavrov said that Syria and Ukraine were discussed, while repeatedly stressing the “business-like” attitude of Trump and his administration, free of the ideological bias and “dirty tricks” of Barack Obama’s presidency.
Lavrov also suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin could meet Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Hamburg in July.
“Lavrov’s visit to Washington adds to the sense of a thawing in the dialogue between Moscow and Washington, which started with the two presidents having a phone conversation on May 2 and agreeing to a first face-to-face meeting at the G20 Summit,” VTB Bank commented on May 11.
The bank believes that, “US participation and cooperation is critically important for the feasibility of the ‘de-escalation zones’ plan for Syria which was agreed in Astana between Russia, Turkey and Iran last week”.
“Unfortunately, the meeting [of Lavrov and Trump] did not bring any breakthroughs,” BCS Equity concluded.
In contrast to Lavrov’s much publicised Washington visit, the visit of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin the next day went largely under the radar.
The Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement saying Klimkin is staying on in his US visit in order the meet with Trump. “It appears that the US State Department and Congress are still pushing the Ukrainian cause separately from Trump,” an unnamed observer in Moscow commented to bne IntelliNews.
In the run-up to the Lavrov meeting on May 9, a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to Trump in which they “strongly encourage [Trump] to meet with senior leaders from Ukraine, including President Petro Poroshenko, in advance of any official meetings with senior Russian officials including Russian President Vladimir Putin.”