Tillerson — Lavrov: first meeting

Moscow. — The first meeting of U.S. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson and Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the conference of foreign Ministers of the countries “Big twenty” in Bonn had been noted by the parties in different ways.

In a brief statement Tillerson after talking with Lavrov, which was circulated by U.S. media, said:

“Foreign Minister Lavrov and I had a productive meeting.

We discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interest. As I made clear during the hearing in my statement in the Senate, the United States will consider the opportunity to work with Russia when we can find areas of practical cooperation, which will benefit the American people.

Where our views do not coincide, the United States will defend the interests and values of America and its allies. At that time, as we are again looking for common ground, we expect that Russia will fulfill its commitments under the Minsk agreements, working on de-escalation of violence in Ukraine.”

Sergei Lavrov was somewhat more verbose and optimistic, and talking to journalists after the meeting, often used the pronoun “we”.

“We have confirmed the existence of common interests, overlapping interests, especially in regard to the uncompromising struggle against terrorism in this context and in the context of a political settlement, in terms of cooperation on the Syrian crisis, other countries in the region where terrorism has taken its roots” — said the Russian Minister on the part of his conversation with Kerry, where they discussed the Syrian crisis.

“It is clear that we could not solve all the problems, I think we never decide between the two major powers such as Russia and the United States, but we have a common understanding that on those issues where our interests coincide, and such areas are many, — we must move forward to show the ability of the US and Russia to fulfil the role allotted to them” — said Sergey Lavrov.

On the topic of Ukraine — the only country in a public statement has mentioned Rex Tillerson, the head of the Russian foreign Ministry has expressed far less certain.

He simply equated the Ukrainian conflict in which, as repeatedly stated by Washington, Russia is involved, with the Afghan: “we Discussed the situation in Afghanistan, in Ukraine. In all these areas our American partners are interested to join efforts that are being made to overcome these conflicts.”

In Moscow, there is obvious disappointment with recent statements by Washington against Russia, and many Russian high-ranking politicians say that the administration of Donald trump does not meet their expectations.

In this sense the words of U.S. Secretary of state about the need for Russia to fulfill the Minsk agreements is unlikely to improve their mood: these words were spoken by the gentleman of the Russian “order of Friendship” from which Vladimir Putin and his subordinates expected a different approach to bilateral relations. However, experts say that, firstly, everything develops logically, and secondly, there was no need to deceive ourselves, and thirdly, nothing is defined.

Alexei Arbatov: trump besieged on all sides

Head of the Center for international security, Institute of world economy and international relations in Moscow.


In an interview with “Voice of America” he expressed confidence that Russia and the United States can quickly begin to work together, whether on the political will:

“There are a number of issues on Syria, and Ukraine, and to rescue the Treaty on intermediate-range and shorter-range, and at the conclusion of the new start Treaty, and on all these questions you can start to operate today, from the point of view of the objective security interests of the parties and terms of the technical ability to do it all. Give instructions to civil and military specialists, and each of these questions they will tell you how to start and what will be the “road map”.

The problem, according to experts, that to cooperate with Moscow members of the administration of Donald trump prevents the political moment: “Putin really wants to cooperate on all these issues, and trump, apparently, too wants. But trump besieged on all sides, and the first scandals, of course, weakened their position, particularly with the resignation of Flynn.

Then the relationship with Russia has come to the forefront, exposing the unprotected flank of the trump. Moreover, he was faced with a unique situation, when against his attempts, the plans to improve relations with Russia is the United front of liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans. This to my mind is never in the United States was not.”

“We used to have was the main obstacle to political tensions, mistrust and hostility between the Putin administration and the Obama administration, but now the situation has changed dramatically, now the main obstacle is political tension between President trump, on the one hand, and the United opposition within the United States, on the other hand, first of all, the opposition in the sphere of relations of Russia and the USA” — says Alexei Arbatov.

One of the serious topics on which Russia and the United States will be difficult to negotiate — is Syria, the analyst continues:

“Russia can say that trump is about Bashar Assad spoke as the least evil, that even if America comes out of this in his now practical politics.

And if you accept that Bashar al-Assad should stay, because any replacement will be worse, so we expect from you, that you warrant that the moderate Syrian opposition, Turkey and Saudi Arabia will not be against him to fight. But with trump as long as he chose, nothing was said about Assad in the sense that even if he will remain that he is the lesser evil. So, again, arises the first and main question — what to do with Assad?”

Fyodor Lukyanov: you Need to see how Russia will be important for US

Chief editor of the magazine “Russia in global politics”.

Fyodor Lukyanov is not surprised that Rex Tillerson has mentioned the Ukraine and the Minsk agreement:

“This repetition of the official position which has not changed.

Everything connected with Ukraine, today rests in the Minsk agreement. All have long understood that the Minsk agreement is probably unenforceable for a number of reasons, but anything else is still there.

Of course, it was amazing when trump spoke earlier in the sense that he will consider the question of supplies of Crimea. Well, he considered and realized that affiliation clear. In fact, no reason to expect a change of the official position of the USA in Ukraine was not, it is not clear where it came from.”

Any other words about the Ukrainian crisis from Tillerson, according to the expert, would be imprudent: “It would be too big a shift and too big a setup. For trump’s very hard to do it (change the position on Ukraine — D. G.), given the atmosphere that has developed around it from the beginning.

While Fyodor Lukyanov suggests not to jump to conclusions about what the US has already given a signal about the nature of their relations with Russia:

“Tillerson said all these things to dismiss immediately any suspicion that there are prerequisites for a fundamental change in the relationship.

In my opinion, is the statement that while things remain as they are, and then we’ll see. Then it all depends on how they set up their priorities first. Second, how these priorities Russia on some issues would be important. As with Ukraine — whether Ukraine is a Central issue, and how it will be used on.”

Alexander Golts: dreams of a “big deal” is over

Military analyst, invited expert at the Kennan Institute.

Alexander Golts says that the words of the Secretary of state after a meeting with his Russian counterpart clearly reflect the situation:


“This is not the only sign that dreams of a “big deal” of which in Washington, said many analysts, and which happily waited in Moscow, ended.

They ended primarily because in the us capital, like a snowball, increases the scandal associated with the attempts of Russian intervention in American politics, in American internal Affairs.”

Expert tells how this “snowball” is growing:

“Only what the American media published information that the people trump in the year preceding the election, was in continuous communication with operatives of the Russian intelligence. In these circumstances, to say anything about the development of cooperation on the joint fight against terrorism is more than strange.

This immediately can call themselves a new storm of criticism, which Washington and so is not small. Now is not the time (and when that time comes — it is unclear) to build some plans for cooperation with Russia. On the contrary, now is the time to show some stiffness that we see in the statements Tillerson”.

Alexander Golts emphasizes the need first to agree at least on how to prevent a direct conflict:

“What may be is, of course, the return to positive experience of the cold war, namely the development of some, albeit modest, of measures of military trust.

I primarily mean a meeting of the Chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the chief of the Russian General staff, to be held in Baku. There, apparently, these people are quiet, without loud statements, begin to discuss pressing issues, hold discussions, in which we are talking about cooperation, and about how not to accidentally burn each other.”

Danila Galperovich is a reporter for the Russian Service “voice of America” in Moscow. Cooperates with the “Voice of America” in 2012. For a long time he worked as a correspondent and host of programs on Russian service Bi-Bi-si and “Radio Liberty”. Specialization: international relations, politics and legislation, human rights.