Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on December 10 visited Washington for talks with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump. The two parties exchanged their objections and warnings in a polite, albeit chilly tone. The officials voiced their readiness to agree on multiple issues while acknowledging that they are unable to overcome the most profound differences. Somewhat a unique event, especially in the light of limited contacts between the Kremlin and the Trump presidential administration, Lavrov's trip to the United States yet failed to bring about a breakthrough.
Pompeo urged Russia to halt its support for Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro and allow democratic elections to take place in the country. The U.S. top diplomat also reemphasized his country's position that Crimea belongs to Ukraine. High on the agenda were also the outcomes of the Normandy format talks in Paris. Russia's foreign minister said the Kremlin advocates the inviolability of the Minsk agreements, adding that the package of measures must be fully implemented. Lavrov again blamed the United States for the collapse of the INF Treaty. He assured that the Kremlin was ready to sign an extension of New START, a U.S.-Russian nuclear deal concluded back in 2010. Among key items discussed by Pompeo and Lavrov was China, and most specifically, its military stockpile. Lavrov told a news conference that the United States and Russia may even team up in this respect. Russia's foreign minister said Moscow is ready to consider establishing global arms control, a solution much to the liking of Donald Trump, yet provided that Beijing greenlights the idea. Lavrov's declaration is favorable for Russia's image worldwide and costs Moscow nothing extra because China will say no anyway. At the meeting, Pompeo warned Lavrov against any Russian attempts to interfere in the 2020 vote. "Should Russia or any foreign actor take steps to undermine our democratic processes, we will take action in response," U.S. Secretary of State was quoted as saying. Lavrov again rebuffed Moscow's meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential race. Also, U.S. President Donald Trump warned the Russian diplomat not to interfere in the next election, a statement he later published on his Twitter account and was echoed in the White House's official readout. There was no joint press conference afterward, and Lavrov later told journalists at the Russian embassy that they had not addressed Russian interference in the run-up to the U.S. presidential election.