Today, we've discovered that Vladimir Putin might meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Sochi on May 14th. The information was shared by Putin's Press-Secretary Dmitry Peskov. Before that, Pompeo is expected to meet with Sergey Lavrov. Today, the Russian Chief Diplomat invited his American counterpart to Russia during the session of the Arctic Council in Finland. The Secretary of State agreed to come. At the same time, he suddenly canceled his first visit to Germany, where he was supposed to meet with Chancellor Merkel.
Our special reporter Denis Davydov with the details from Finland.
Journalists rarely hear politicians talking outside of protocol. Here are the Chief Diplomats of Russia, the US, and Canada talking before the opening of the Arctic Council. Sergey Lavrov can be heard reminding his counterparts of how they were trying to push Moscow away from the discussion of the Venezuelan crisis. At the same time, his opponents arrogantly interfere in the affairs of other countries.
Sergey Lavrov: I believe you don't represent the South American region, do you?
- We represent the entire hemisphere.
- Oh, the hemisphere. Then what's the U.S. doing in the Eastern Hemisphere, in Ukraine, for instance?
The American Secretary of State Pompeo couldn't parry that. He smiled and remained silent. They kept their smiles for the group photo. It was the official opening of the Arctic Council. It gathered ministers from the eight countries whose territories stretch beyond the polar circle. Together, they discuss how to protect the tough but fragile Arctic.
Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister: "About 1/3 of the Arctic is Russian territory. We consider it a space of peace. We're open to greater cooperation in the Arctic where, as we've repeatedly stressed, we have no ground for conflict or attempts to resolve any occurring issues by military means".
Arctic issues are discussed in a fitting place. The coordinates of the minister summit are 66°N and 25°E. That's the Finnish city of Rovaniemi, the border of the polar circle. Nobody's surprised that even though it's May there's snow on the ground and moreover, it's actually snowing. It'll keep snowing until June. The local kids can throw snowballs in summer. It's Lapland, the home of Santa Claus.
Santa Claus: "I've been living in the Arctic for a very long time. Santa Claus welcomes every initiative that will improve the region".
It's unclear what Santa will bring Mike Pompeo but he was very disappointed that the U.S. didn't let the council adopt the final declaration. The Arctic Eight didn't manage to agree. The U.S. was arguing with the rest of the members, writes the New York Times. The Secretary of State was primarily talking about the polar hydrocarbon deposits. He was talking like a predator, shocking the rest of the council. His yesterday's meeting with Minister Lavrov wasn't an easy one, but it was fruitful.
Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State: "It was a good conversation. We discussed a wide range of issues".
Today, Pompeo suddenly canceled his Berlin visit for some reason. He was supposed to meet with the German Chancellor and Foreign Minister and scold them for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that Washington loathes. The German media has been wondering why the secretary of state decided to cancel the visit.
"Since the time Pompeo assumed office, and it's been over a year, he hasn't visited Germany, even though he's visited 38 other countries during his term".
Another surprising fact is that Pompeo suddenly agreed to come to Russia. In a week, he'll have another meeting with Lavrov. Never before have these diplomats met that often. They'll see each other in Sochi on May 14th.
Denis Davydov, Sergey Yeliseev Viktoriya Laneeva, and Denis Sokolov Vesti, Rovaniemi, Finland.