On Wednesday, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meeting will take place in Moscow and is set ahead of a meeting between President Trump and Putin later in the summer.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that Bolton will be meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during his visit.
“While in Moscow today, Ambassador Bolton is meeting with President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian officials to discuss United States-Russia relations, as well the potential for a Presidential meeting,” Sanders tweeted.
While in Moscow today, Ambassador Bolton is meeting with President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian officials to discuss United States-Russia relations, as well the potential for a Presidential meeting.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) June 27, 2018
Politico reports Bolton will also be meeting with foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov and members of Russia’s Security Council.
“We cannot boast about a wealth of bilateral contacts in our bilateral relationship,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, per Politico. “Such contacts are used to exchange views on the main problems in international affairs — they are rather clear and obvious — and to discuss the sad state of our bilateral relationship.”
Bolton is in Russia ahead of an anticipated summit between Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump next month. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in April that the two presidents had discussed meeting “in the ‘not-too-distant’ future,” the same language used last week by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to describe the timing of a potential meeting.
The meeting between Trump and Putin is expected to take place on the back end of the U.S. president’s trip to Europe next month. Trump is scheduled to attend the NATO summit on July 11 and 12 and then visit Great Britain on July 13.
— Advertisement —
As Reuters reports, Bolton has previously been critical of the Russian President and will have to put his differences aside for their meeting:
Bolton, a lifelong hawk who warned last year before his own appointment that Washington negotiated with Putin’s Russia at its peril, is due to give a news conference at 1630 GMT, where he might name the date and location of a summit.
The TASS news agency reported that Bolton had discussed potential cooperation between the two countries’ security councils with Yuri Averyanov, the first deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council.
Bolton, who last year accused Putin in Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper of “lying with the benefit of the best KGB training,” then began talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ahead of his planned sit-down with Putin.
The U.S.-Russian relationship has been rocky, to say the least. President Trump has stood opposed to Putin over Syria and Ukraine, and a U.S. Justice Department-appointed Special Counsel has indicted more than a dozen Russian entities for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Here’s even more from Reuters on a prospective meeting between the two presidents:
The summit, if it happens, is expected to take place around the second half of July after Trump attends a NATO summit in Brussels and visits Britain. A senior U.S. official said on Tuesday the Finnish capital of Helsinki was being considered as a location.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the weekend he expected Bolton’s Moscow visit to lead to a summit “in the not too distant future”. Pompeo said Washington was “trying to find places where we had overlapping interests, but protecting American interest where we do not.”
Such a summit would be likely to cause irritation in parts of the West, where countries such as Britain want to isolate Putin. It would also go down badly among Trump’s foreign and domestic critics, who question his commitment to NATO and fret over his desire to rebuild ties with Russia even as Washington continues to tighten sanctions on Moscow.