In comments today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov insisted that the Russian government is ready and willing to talk with President-elect Donald Trump on a myriad of issues, particularly nuclear weapons and Syria, and that he believes the two could solve a lot of the world’s problems working together.
Lavrov expressed hope for major progress in the US-Russia relationship, saying that he sees a lot of potential areas of cooperation, and is “encouraged” by the Trump transition team’s comments, seeing major differences between the incoming administration and the Obama Administration.
Lavrov faulted Obama, saying he had done major harm to US-Russia cooperation, and that he believes a more pragmatic effort to find mutual areas of cooperation, particularly on issues like the war on terror, much bigger deals could be reached.
This is in stark contrast to yesterday’s comments from Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who insisted the Kremlin doesn’t have any intention of discussing anything with Trump until after the inauguration. It’s clear, however, that Lavrov is looking beyond the inauguration and forward to getting started.
Trump insisted over the weekend that while he doesn’t intend to immediately end all of President Obama’s anti-Russia sanctions, he would be open to ending them as part of a broader deal, suggesting in particular that it could involve a deal which “reduced very substantially” the number of nuclear weapons.
Russia has been more or less excluding Obama from the Syrian peace process, negotiating a ceasefire with Turkey and Iran. They have, however, indicated that the Trump Administration is welcome to participate in the peace talks, which once again likely reflects the expectation that US Russia relations in general will improve, and that Trump is likely to move away from some of the aspects of intervention in Syria more problematic to Russia, like the CIA’s smuggling of arms to rebels.