The US Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in the Russian capital Moscow on Thursday evening for a two-day visit during which he will hold talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. The talks will focus primarily on the Syrian crisis and this was confirmed by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
It is expected that Kerry will hold talks with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The spokesman for the Kremlin Dmitry Peskov said in a statement to the media yesterday that “preparations are underway for the possibility that President Putin will receive Mr Kerry” but Peskov could not specify when the meeting would take place. The Spokesperson for the United States Department of State John Kirby announced earlier this week that Kerry would be visiting Russia in an attempt to reach an understanding on the crisis in Syria with Russian officials.
The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made a number of statements outlining the agenda for the talks with the US Secretary of State ahead of his visit and it seems that the talks will focus on distinguishing between the opposition and “terrorist groups”.
At a joint press conference that was held after talks with the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister in the Azerbaijani capital Baku, Lavrov added that “The problem with implementing this ceasefire agreement is that Al-Nusra Front is disguising itself, and has set up groups with other names. These groups are announcing their readiness to join the cessation of hostilities agreement, but they are in fact fighting with Al-Nusra Front terrorists.” Lavrov added that he would “discuss this matter with John Kerry during his visit to Moscow” and “make a complaint once again that the US has not been able to keep opposition groups away from Al-Nusra Front sites since January”.
Noticeably, Lavrov’s remarks from Baku yesterday included a violent attack on the UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, especially regarding the comments that de Mistura recently made after talks with the Italian Foreign Minister on Monday in which he said that “the key to the solution in Syria lies in an agreement between Russia and the United States”. De Mistura also stated that “conditions are not yet suitable for the resumption of negotiations” and that “a date to resume negotiations has not yet been set”.