MOSCOW, June 27. /TASS/. No breakthroughs are due in Russian-US relations when US presidential national security adviser John Bolton visits Moscow in connection with preparations for a meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump, the director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for US and Canadian Studies, Valery Garbuzov, told TASS in an interview.
"I don’t expect Bolton’s visit will bring about any breakthroughs," he said. "The United States’ viewpoint on a number of issues that may be on the agenda is well-known. I don’t think there will be any surprises or secrets in that sense. US officials, including President Trump, have repeatedly expressed their stance on Donbass and no changes are likely here. The problem of Crimea is now on the back burner, but that does not mean that Washington has changed its attitude."
"The main feature of the current state of affairs is neither Russia nor the United States is prepared to propose a compromise implying concessions," Garbuzov said. "Such an option simply does not exist. This is a dead end. Any dialogue, any compromise requires concessions, but we are now living through a period where neither side is prepared to take any steps back. It remains to be seen if time is not ripe, or different people are required or a critical level of tensions has not been achieved yet for Moscow and Washington to develop the awareness mutual concessions will have to be made."
Garbuzov believes that Trump’s national security adviser will firmly press for the US positions on a number of issues. "Bolton is a hardliner. He was invited into the Trump administration for a good reason. It’s beyond doubt he is a professional and he will be pressing for the US stance," Garbuzov said. "He is a very tough negotiator. He is reluctant to compromise and will be trying to get it his own way. The Russian side will be doing the same."
Garbuzov is very cautious about the outlook for a meeting of Russian and US leaders, which, as some suspect, may take place in Vienna in the middle of July.
"It is hardly possible to expect a future Putin-Trump meeting will bring about any breakthroughs, even if it does take place. To a certain extent such a meeting is senseless. The two men will just shake hands. Putin will see once again that Trump wishes to change something in relations with Russia but is unable to do anything along these lines," he said. "I don’t think the meeting will end with the conclusion of some agreements."
At the same time Garbuzov speculated that the Russian and US leaders might achieve some verbal, non-binding agreements.
"The meeting may end with some verbal agreements that will mean little, if at all. The general climate and content of bilateral relations as they are, it is impossible to say that this summer will see a breakthrough in Russian-US relations," Garbuzov said.
"So far Putin and Trump met at various international platforms. If a special meeting is to be arranged now, it would be logical to prepare for it with a view of signing an agreement or at least a declaration," he believes. "For the time being there is no evidence that such a document is being drafted. The bilateral agenda is negative and what can serve as a basis for treaties or agreements is anyone’s guess."
Consultations in Moscow
Bolton is in Moscow for consultations on a variety of issues, including the possibility of a meeting of US and Russian presidents. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday did not rule out that Putin might receive Bolton.
The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with the US presidential national security adviser on June 27.
On June 9, Peskov said that Putin and Trump had held a telephone conversation to discuss the possibility Vienna might be chosen as a venue for their bilateral meeting. Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on June 16 confirmed in a televised interview Vienna had offered to host a Russian-US summit.