Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the White House on May 10 with Russia’s top diplomat saying after the talks that Moscow and Washington should seek ways to solve international problems together, especially Syria, despite any difficulties in relations.
The meetings came a day after Trump fired FBI director James Comey, who was leading an investigation into alleged Russian interference in last year’s US election.
“Trump clearly would still like to pursue cooperation with Russia–on Syria and countering extremism more generally, but also in a broader sense,” Jeff Mankoff, senior fellow and deputy director of the Russia & Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC, told New Europe on May 12.
“The sheer fact of Lavrov’s presence in the Oval Office in the midst of the ongoing furor over the Comey firing and the Congressional investigations into possible collusion is a sign of how desperate this administration is to work with Moscow,” Mankoff said. “What they keep finding though is that their own poor judgment keeps getting in the way. The investigations, now back in the limelight with the firing of the FBI director, will cast a shadow over every attempt this administration makes to gain Russian cooperation,” the Washington-based expert added.
Fadel Gheit, a senior analyst at Oppenheimer in New York, told New Europe on May 11 that going forward the US-Russia relationship is going to be pragmatic. However, he noted the meetings were badly timed, given that Trump had just fired the director of the agency investigating his campaign’s ties to Russia.
“It is extremely bad timing and it’s ‘The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,’” Gheit said. “The Russians are very clumsy and they interfered with our election and they interfered with the French election but they bodged it up,” Gheit claimed. “The Russians are scrambling right now because Comey was close to show a clear connection between the Trump Administration and the Russians,” the Oppenheimer analyst argued. “Trump only a few weeks ago was praising Comey. He actually kissed him and they played this skit all the time here on television,” he said.
“Comey was like a rising star. He is a very tall guy, he has impeccable credentials; his background is incredible. But he made mistakes, bad, bad mistakes with the election – there is no question in my mind. But Trump did not fire him then. But now Trump is citing what he did wrong, that Hillary Clinton is the reason that he fired him, which is garbage, which is a big lie,” Gheit argued. “If the investigation gets to the bottom of it, then there will be clearly illegal activities between the Trump Administration and the Russians. There is no question in anybody’s mind. The question is can we get the proof. Trump will do whatever it takes to derail this investigation,” Gheit claimed.