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MOSCOW, May 13. /TASS/. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Russia, the first since the start of the Ukrainian crisis, has brought about no cardinal change in Russia-US relations but was a clear sign Washington has made an attempt to amend its policies towards Moscow, polled experts told TASS.
Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of US and Canada Studies Sergey Rogov believes that what makes Kerry’s visit to Russia so important is its heralding a return to normal dialogue between Washington and Moscow after many months of chill. "Up to that moment, propagandistic statements were invariably heard where there should have been diplomatic discussions," Rogov said.
"John Kerry’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Russia at the initiative of the White House was a clear sign the Barack Obama administration had steered relations with Moscow into a dead end, putting them on the brink of another Cold War. Washington eventually stopped to think what could be done to prevent a further worsening. The Kremlin had the same thoughts," Rogov said.
Specifically, he pointed to the wide agenda of the meeting: nuclear weapons non-proliferation, Syrian settlement, the Iranian nuclear problem and some regional conflicts. "That’s a sure sign the previous 12 months when Ukraine invariably took centre-stage are over," the observer noted. "Alongside this, Washington has developed certain shifts in its interpretation of the Minsk Accords for a settlement of the crisis in the southeast of Ukraine," he said.
"The White House invariably brought to the forefront the pullback of heavy weapons away from the line of engagement between the Ukrainian army and the militias’ of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics and the withdrawal of Russian troops, ostensibly present in Donbass."
Moscow had kept pressing for the beginning of political negotiations by Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk, Rogov noted. Now, Washington looked prepared to agree that such talks were necessary and had promised to exercise its influence to persuade Kiev to negotiate, which was a positive sign.
While in no mood to over-estimate Kerry’s visit to Russia, the scholar judged himself certain that "it makes one hopeful dialogue between Washington and Moscow will go ahead in various formats."
A senior Russian legislator, deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s International Affairs committee Andrei Klimov warns that "Kerry’s visit to Russia should by no means be interpreted as a sign the White House, in the wake of the large-scale celebrations in Moscow on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Allied victory over Nazi Germany, has all of a sudden decided to hurry to mend relations with the Kremlin.
"What it surely does mean," he said, "is that the United States is more realistic in gauging Russia’s weight in the world and less reliant on its own subjective ideas of what the world order should be like. "Kerry and Lavrov laid wreathes in Sochi at the memorial honouring Red Army soldiers who perished in World War II battles. In this way, Kerry somewhat corrected the impression from the Obama administration’s decision to avoid paying respects to the people who rid the world of Nazism," Klimov told TASS.
"It is beyond doubt that the White House could not but be impressed by the May 9 V-day parade in Moscow’s Red Square, which featured guest troop contingents from other countries, including China and India, both possessing major nuclear rocket potentials," he said. "Also, the just-started Russian-Chinese naval exercise Mediterranean Maritime Cooperation-2015 is another clear sign the West has failed to achieve Russia’s isolation," he said.
"Washington finds it ever harder to conceal the fact that its minions in Kiev are pushing ahead with aggression against the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics and uttering threats that they may mount another offensive against the Donetsk airport. Kerry promised to caution Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko against such actions and emphasised United States’ commitment to implementation of the Minsk Accords in the southeast of Ukraine. There is hope Barack Obama’s current stance will eventually bear fruit," Klimov said.
Ukraine as such was not high priority for United States foreign policy, he added. For Washington, it was far more important to keep in touch with Russia to formulate common approaches to normalising affairs in the Middle East and resolving Iran’s nuclear problem. This was well-seen in Kerry’s tweeted call for preserving communication links between the US and Russia. "This is the first step towards resumption of a full-fledged process of bilateral negotiations," Klimov noted.