Top diplomats from the United States and Russia are set to arrive this week in Iceland for their first face-to-face meeting due to strained relations between the two countries in recent months.
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken and former Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are due to hold talks on Wednesday in addition to an Arctic Council meeting in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, a city with a long history of relations between the US and Russia.
Even before the talks – which appear to be a prelude to a meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin next month – the two ambassadors settled near the most controversial venue, considering what could be difficult and contradictory.
This follows the expulsion of other countries as US-Russia threatens to return to the Cold War.
The power of nuclear weapons is at odds with a number of factors, including Ukraine, the Arctic, Russia’s handling of the case against opponent Alexey Navalny and cyber theft cases, as well as allegations that Russian perpetrators are responsible for damaging the US pipeline.
“It would be our desire to have a strong and reliable relationship with Russia,” Blinken said Tuesday. “At the same time, we have made it clear that if Russia chooses to do something reckless or cruel that affects our interests or those of our allies, we will respond. Not for the sake of conflict or escalation but for such reasons cannot be allowed to go unpunished.”
Blinken also tweeted Tuesday that the US opposes Russia’s 2014 occupation of Crimea from Ukraine.
He added: “We condemn the persecution of Russia in Crimea, especially on May 18 as we commemorate the 77th Stalin Day for the expulsion of many Crimeans from their homeland.”
Perhaps in anticipation of Blinken’s role, Lavrov presented an opportunity at Monday’s press conference in Moscow.
“It seems that the (US) concept was designed to establish a good, credible relationship with Russia,” he said.
“However, if this includes unexpected penalties, this is not what we need. Our view of the US includes the hope that the relationships that can be established will simply be based on events other than the words we have heard many times. “
Blinken said his meeting with Lavrov would be an important opportunity to test the idea that the US and Russia could work together harmoniously, such as climate change, the Middle East, Iran and North Korea, despite some disagreements. The summit comes at a time when the rest of the world is seriously embroiled in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Blinken noted that despite hostilities, the US and Russia had initially agreed with Biden’s management to extend a five-year agreement that President Donald Trump refused to renew before stepping down.
Trump left a mixed legacy with Russia that included close ties with Putin, while his superiors imposed sanctions and other sanctions.
Lavrov said Moscow would make its “red lines” and was determined to, once it stabilized, continue to place nuclear weapons, nuclear and non-nuclear weapons on the negotiating table.
Another area, illegal in Reykjavik, is the meeting place of President Ronald Reagan and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, and in the Arctic, where Russia has been expanding its armed forces and pursuing policies to increase its power, especially for US alarms.
Blinken declined to be called to Russia to reopen the Arctic Council and expressed concern over the growing number of Russian troops in the so-called “far north.”
“We are concerned about some of the recent developments in the Arctic war,” he said. “This increases the risk of accidents and maladministration and undermines our vision of a peaceful and stable future in the region. That is why we need to be vigilant in this regard.”
Blinken also took Russia for advice on how to run the region and criticized Lavrov for comments he criticized because the Arctic “is our part, our country.”
“We must move forward together, including Russia, in accordance with the law, in accordance with the traditions, in accordance with what we have done for each other and to refrain from statements that violate this,” Blinken said.
In a statement on Monday, Lavrov acknowledged concerns about Russia’s war in the Arctic.
“We already know that this is part of us, our country. We have a responsibility to oversee the safe Arctic coast. “Everything Russia does there is legal,” he said.
Moscow and Washington are also embroiled in controversy over the dismissal of their offices and deputies.
Russia has given the US until August 1 to deport all non-Americans to their countries, which the US says could lead to instability.