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Andrey Kortunov

Ph.D. in History, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC member

The fact that Kerry’s visit to Sochi took place for the first time in two years indicates that it is generally an extraordinary event. Different factors have played a role here. On the one hand, there is the desire to preserve the dialogue, especially, in the times of a growing number of international problems, where Russian and American interests are the same. On the other hand, there is the desire to take part in tackling the Ukrainian crisis.

After all, the U.S. is not a participant of the Normandy format process [a process that involves Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany – Editor’s note]. Nevertheless, they have their opportunities and channels of communication with Kiev. In addition, there is the desire of the U.S. to clearly deliver its position on the Ukrainian case and other international problems. However, nobody expected any breakthroughs in these negotiations

Observing the Minsk II agreements was the major topic of the talks in Sochi. On Russia’s part, it was important that the U.S. would not confine their position to monitoring the situation in Eastern Ukraine, but also take responsibilities to exert pressure on the Kiev authorities. And, remarkably, Kerry made a reference to the comment to Ukrainian President Petr Poroshenko about the Donetsk airport and warned against using force in taking it back, which demonstrates the symbolic readiness to exert pressure on Kiev, if necessary, and use its political heft to influence Kiev to fulfill the Minsk agreements. And this is a very important point. It means the possibility of the U.S. participating in the Normandy format negotiations. But again, for Russia, it is much more important to focus on fulfilling the commitments presented in the Minsk Agreements.

Entire material: on Russia Direct

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