Washington, May 11 – In advance of Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, CNAS Strategy and Statecraft Program Director Julianne Smith and Bacevich Fellow Jacob Stokes have written a new Press Note, “Secretary Kerry’s Upcoming Meeting with Putin and Lavrov.”
The full Press Note is available below:
Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tomorrow in Sochi, Russia. The three leaders will have a lot of ground to cover. Ukraine will top the list, where hopes remain that the Minsk II Protocol is taking root despite evidence to the contrary. The United States has not played a leading role in these negotiations, deferring instead to Germany and France. But Kerry will repeat during this visit that the United States cares deeply about the outcome of negotiations and is at the ready to pursue additional punitive measures against Russia should those talks fail.
Next on the list is Iran, where, unlike the Ukraine crisis, Russia and the United States have been on the same side, working closely to finalize details of an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program before next month’s deadline. Kerry will no doubt mention Russia’s recent decision to sell S-300 air defense missiles to Iran and warn against any premature moves before the deal is set in stone. Finally, Russia and the United States will surely focus on developments in and around Syria, where both countries lack good options to stop ISIS’s rise.
Overall, it is important that Kerry will see Putin himself, as it is increasingly clear that Putin trusts only a small circle of advisors, of which Lavrov is not always a member. And after Lavrov’s rather blistering critique of U.S. policy during his speech at the Munich Security Conference in February, one can imagine that the Kerry-Lavrov relationship is icy. Hopes for progress are dim, but Russia’s importance to an array of issues the United States is grappling with makes dialogue essential for firmly conveying U.S. positions and confronting areas of disagreement head on.
Ms. Smith and Mr. Stokes are available for interviews. To arrange an interview, please contact Neal Urwitz at email@example.com or call 202-457-9409.