Recently I wrote for The Duran an article that suggested that some sort of deal or understanding between the Kremlin and Trump administration had either been reached in relation to the conflict in Syria or was in the process of being reached.
This followed 2 weeks of intense diplomatic contacts between the Kremlin and the Trump administration, which went well beyond the level of such contacts achieved at any previous time since Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The pace of these contacts has now intensified even further, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visiting Washington today for a 2 day visit during which he will meet with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US President Donald Trump.
Trump’s forthcoming meeting with Lavrov will be his first face to face meeting with a senior member of the Russian leadership. Trump has now had three lengthy telephone conversations with Putin, but in diplomacy person to person contact matters, and Trump to his credit seems instinctively to understand this. On the assumption that the hard work is going to be done during the meeting between Lavrov and Tillerson, Trump’s meeting with Lavrov is most probably mainly intended to familiarize Trump with Lavrov, Russia’s top diplomat, and the man Trump and the rest of his administration will have to deal with in their future contacts with Russia.
Given that the probable purpose of the meeting between Trump and Lavrov is to establish a person to person relationship, there is a strong chance that Lavrov – a fluent English speaker – will speak to Trump for at least part of the time during the meeting in English, dispensing with his interpreter.
That the Kremlin for its part is treating the forthcoming meetings between Lavrov, Tillerson and Trump very seriously is confirmed by the fact that a special meeting of Russia’s Security Council was convened in order to discuss them and (no doubt) to give Lavrov instructions.
Lavrov’s visit to Washington and his meetings with Tillerson and Trump confirm something further. This is that amongst the various advisers on foreign policy Trump has surrounded himself with it is Tillerson who is his point man in forging contacts with Russia, and that Tillerson’s star which for the moment is in the ascendant.
It remains to be seen what all these diplomatic contacts will lead to. However they appear to show that despite the setback caused by the US missile attack on Al-Shayrat air base and the argument over responsibility for the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack, Trump himself remains committed – as he has repeatedly said – to improving relations with Russia.