Tonight U.S.Secretary Of State Rex Tillerson makes his first official visit to Moscow, but Russian President Vladimir Putin may not find time to see Washington’s top diplomat tête-à-tête.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov was certainly not happy when asked if the president will meet Tillerson.
“We have announced no meetings and to this day there are no meetings with Tillerson on the president’s schedule,” Peskov said, according Russian news agency Tass.
It has been reported that Tillerson will instead follow strict diplomatic protocol and only meet his direct counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
From Peskov’s answer U.S. should read Putin’s potential refusal to meet its top diplomat and this can be a clear indicator of where the U.S. and Russia stand now.
It is expected that when the U.S. President and the Secretary of State go to Moscow they should meet with Putin. Lavrov does not have as much power in the policy process as the president himself. When Tillerson goes to Moscow and sees Lavrov and not Putin, that is a strong message that Russia is not paying enough attention to the U.S. officials and that might point to the tensions.
On the other hand, Tillerson said he had not seen hard evidence that Russia knew ahead of time about the chemical weapons attack, but he planned to demand to Moscow to rethink its support for Assad in the April 12 talks.
“I’m hopeful that we can have constructive talks with the Russian government, with Foreign Minister Lavrov and have Russia be supportive of a process that will lead to a stable Syria,” Tillerson declared on Sunday.