Kerry’s meeting with Putin, Lavrov results no breakthrough

US Secretary of State and top Russian authorities meet in Sochi to discuss Ukraine and other regional security issues, but meeting ends with no breakthrough

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The United States and Russian Federation sought the ways of convergence on the regional security issues as the Secretary of State John Kerry met on Tuesday with the President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Russian Black Sea riviera Sochi.

The parties sat on the table on Tuesday more than eight hours in Sochi, but could not have obtained a remarkable progress on the conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, Libya and Yemen as well as Iran’s nuclear programme.

Kerry’s travel to Russia was the highest US official visit since the conflict erupted in Ukraine in the late 2013.

After the ministerial meeting, both Kerry and Lavrov accentuated some positive sides of the talks during which they sought to increase US-Russian cooperation regarding the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Syria, and Yemen despite the sunken bilateral relations due to the conflicts in eastern Ukraine.

"We didn't come here with an expectation that we were going to define a specific path forward ... or have a major breakthrough...we came here specifically to have a very full and open dialogue," Kerry stated his position with the Russian authorities in the joint press release with Lavrov.

"We have an understanding that we need to avoid steps which are able to inflict a long-term harm to bilateral relations between Russia and the United States," Russian FM Lavrov told reporters.

"There is no substitute for talking directly to key decision makers, particularly during a period that is a complex and fast moving as this is," Kerry also added.

Since Moscow annexed Crimea and gave its military and political support to the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics inside Ukraine, the relations between Russia and the US had undergone to the level of Cold War era.

For the current level of the relations, the Kremlin blames the US administration and NATO for the eastward enlargement further into the post-Soviet space, while the Euro-Atlantic alliance raised concerns over Moscow’s recent military presence towards Eastern Europe.

Kerry and Lavrov urged all parties to aide by the fragile ceasefire agreed in Minsk on Feb. 12 with auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), but sporadically violated by both Kiev forces and the separatists in the Donbass region.

Russian FM Lavrov was said to have told Kerry that the Western attempts to pressure Russia through economic and military sanctions will only lead to a dead end, according to a statement on the Russian Foreign Ministry web site.  

Russian President Putin also hosted the US Secretary of State at the Bocharov Ruchei residence on the shore of Black Sea resort after Kerry’s meeting with his Russian counterpart Lavrov.

The Kremlin sources have not clarified the content of the meeting, but warmly welcomed Kerry’s decision to visit Russia in order to enhance cooperation and dialogue with Moscow.

"It is very positive the US Secretary of State made a decision to hold contacts with his Russian counterpart," the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by the Russian Tass news agency.

Peskov echoed Putin saying, "This is a positive development in itself, because we have stated more than once at various levels that Russia has never been the initiator of a cool-off in relations,” he added that “We have always remained open to manifestations of political will to have a wider dialogue."

The Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov stated that the meeting yielded no breakthrough, but said Putin was eager to increase the level of relations again with Washington by insisting that Moscow would not bow to “coercion.”

Since the Geneva talks, the US and Russia have also been clashing over the ongoing Syrian crisis for which the parties could not have converged on how to end the civil war engulfing the Bashar al Assad regime in Damascus.  

The parties discussed the ongoing conflicts in Syria, but remained stuck as they only reiterated their official stances towards the problem.

Russia has so far supported Assad regime together with Iran whereas the US and other Western allies together with the Gulf Arab countries have long been insisting the regime change in Syria.

The UN and London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced last month that at least 220,000 people have been killed in the four years of conflict.

Iran nuclear programme was another topic to be discussed in the meeting of Kerry with Putin and Lavrov on which the parties had reached a preliminary framework deal in the Swiss town of Lausanne in early April.

The West and Russia-China bloc, dubbed P5 +1, are seeking to reach a final agreement with Iran at last on June 30 to curb Iran’s long-disputed nuclear programme.

Secretary Kerry left for Turkey after his all day meetings in Sochi for the NATO ministerial meeting in Antalya on Wednesday.

The NATO foreign ministers will deal with the aforementioned issues, most notably they will discuss recent developments in Ukraine and other security issues in and around Europe.

Ukraine’s possible membership in the alliance is also expected to be negotiated in the meeting during which members will meet separately with their Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reiterated at the weekend that the NATO membership had become a requisite for Ukraine since the country changed its non-aligned status at the end of last year.

TRTWorld and agencies