There is an American congressional delegation traveling in the Russian Federation. According to TASS, the delegation has seven members:
- Senator Richard Shelby [R-Alabama]
- Senator John Kennedy [R-Louisiana]
- Senator John Hoeven III [R-North Dakota]
- Senator John Thune [R-South Dakota]
- Senator Jerry Moran [R-Kansas]
- Senator Steve Daines [R-Montana]
- Representative Kay Granger [R-Texas]
CNN reported that the delegation went to Russia at the invitation of the United States Ambassador to Russia, John Huntsman. The agenda is described as “high-level meetings”, though Senator Shelby declined to say specifically with whom.
CNN’s report, dated June 21, continued:
Shelby described an agenda of “high-level meetings,” though he declined to say specifically with whom. He added, “We think it’s good for us to talk.”
Kennedy is more ambitious about possible talks.
“I hope we’re going to get to meet with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” he told CNN.
“I want to be able to meet with government officials, try to establish some rapport, talk about common interest, talk about common problem[s].”
Kennedy said he’s also interested in seeing the state of the Russian economy with his own eyes.
“Some say it’s in shambles,” he told CNN. “Others say with the increase in the price of oil, it’s doing much better. Others say they’re spending all their money on Syria and weaponry and the people are starving to death. Others say that’s not true. So I don’t know.”
Kennedy emphasized a trip focused on diplomacy, saying that he believes there are “areas of common interest” between the United States and Russia and that he hopes to “establish rapport between the United States Congress and the Putin administration.”
Prior to leaving St Petersburg the delegation held a meeting with the city’s Governor, Georgy Poltavchenko. At the beginning of the meeting, senator Richard Shelby from Alabama spoke about a necessity for improvement of relations between Russia and the US.
He expressed the hope the Russian-American summit, due in Helsinki on July 16, would facilitate the rectification of relationship, which has been steadily declining in recent years.
During the stay in Moscow that will last through to July 5, they will have meetings with members the Federation Council upper house of parliament and the State Duma, as well with officials from the Russian Foreign Ministry.
On their trip so far, the delegation visited the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, where they were greeted by the museum’s Director General, Dr. Mikhail Piotrovsky. TASS continues:
“In the Hall of the State Council [of the Winter Palace] Mikhail Piotrovsky met with a delegation of US Congress members led by Senator Richard Shelby from Alabama,” the press service of the Hermitage Museum said. “Dr. Piotrovsky familiarized the guests with the museum and the buildings it occupies, the Grand Hermitage Museum concept.
He stressed the particular role the Hermitage Museum was playing as a universal and encyclopedic museum center, adding that “this encyclopedia was written in the Russian language and it tells the story of Russia’s statehood.”.