On Tuesday, October 12, US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland had a number of meetings with senior Russian diplomats and officials.
The first on the list was a visit to Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergei Ryabkov. Following the two-hour meeting, Ryabkov said that the talks ended with no progress whatsoever.
Victoria Nuland is one of US officials who appears on the Russian sanctions list. At the same time, Maria Zakharova, an official spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, earlier announced that the initiative for the visit came from the American side.
For Nuland's visit to Moscow to take place, Russia demanded the US should issue visas to its diplomats. To be more precise, it goes about one diplomat: the US visa was granted to acting Deputy Department of the Foreign Ministry for Nonproliferation and Arms Control, Konstantin Vorontsov.
Sergei Ryabkov, following the results of his negotiations with Victoria Nuland, was very restrained, if not pessimistic. According to him, the conversation was "extremely frank."
"There is neither a breakthrough, nor progress. There is potential for further exacerbations, if we do not make significant efforts to normalize the relations," RIA Novosti quoted Ryabkov as saying.
However, as can be understood from his commentary, he meant the cooperation between Russian and US diplomatic missions. A few days ago, a group of US senators demanded the White House should expel 300 Russian diplomats from the United States if Russia did not agree to increase the number of American diplomatic workers. Moscow responded that there was no such number of Russian diplomats in the United States.
According to Ryabkov, Moscow does not exclude an option to freeze the work of the diplomatic missions of Russia and the United States completely, although Russia would like to avoid such a scenario.
"Nevertheless, the conversation was useful. At least, we agreed to intensify these discussions, hold specialized consultations. Plus, there will be additional consultations held on some segments of bilateral relations, in addition to visas and the work of foreign missions," the deputy minister said.
The reasons why Sergei Ryabkov was so restrained in his assessments are understandable. This is not surprising given the problems in the relations between Russia and the United States.
Victoria Nuland will also hold talks with Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Dmitry Kozak and Assistant to the Head of State for International Affairs Yuri Ushakov.