A delegation of senior US politicians was in Moscow on July 4 to prepare the ground for a controversial meeting later this month between presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.
The meeting was cordial but US Senator Richard Shelby’s decision to visit Russia was widely criticised by Russia’s critics, who said it already represents a concession to Putin.
Trump has hinted that he will make concessions on several issues that interest Russia, leading with a deal on softening sanctions and conceding Russia’s annexation of the Crimea.
The delegation was lead by Shelby, who heads the US foreign relations committee, who met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“I express my real hopes that your visit will symbolise the resumption of relations between the two parliaments,” said Lavrov.
“We know there is going to be a big meeting — it’s going to be very big — between our president and yours in Helsinki in a few weeks and we think it is a good time to be here. We come here realising we have a strained relationship but we could have a better relationship between the US and Russia, because we have some mutual common interests around the world,” Shelby said.
“We could be competitors — we are competitors — but we don’t necessarily need to be adversaries,” Shelby added. “We will have to wait and see, and go from there, but we recognise that the world is better off, I believe, if Russia and the US have fewer tensions.”