Kerry Meets Putin For The First Time In 2 Years As Russia And China Launch First Ever Joint Naval Drill

Today, for the first time in 2 years, after visiting Saudi Arabia last week, John Kerry met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the highest-level U.S. visit in two years, and certainly since the start of the Ukraine presidential coup which has since devolved into a civil war.

According to the WSJ, the top U.S. diplomat "planned to urge Mr. Putin to abide by a Ukraine cease-fire agreement reached in February and reiterate the U.S. pledge to roll back sanctions if Russia is found to be in full compliance, a senior administration official said."

That's not all: Kerry also intends to push for a bid to force Syria’s leader from power, nuclear talks with Iran, strife in Yemen and the fragmentation of Libya, officials said. Kerry also will raise the U.S. opposition to Russia’s sale to Iran of a powerful air defense system.

So yeah, quite a lot on the Ketchup quasi heir's plate, and yet somehow we doubt that Russian strategy will change about any of the abovementioned items by even the slightest bit.

As the WSJ adds, ahead of Mr. Kerry’s meeting with Mr. Putin, he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for over four hours at a hotel in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi. They likely discussed more of the same, or rather Kerry was talking and Lavrov was listening.

The two are shown in the photo below, in which Kerry presents his Russian counterpart with two Idaho potatoes during a meeting in Paris last year.

 

So after Kerry lays out all US demands to Putin, Kerry sid he wants to keep communication with Russia open. Which is good, because we are confident Russia will have a counter demand or two of its own.

“There is a question now whether this might not be a better moment” for a visit with Mr. Putin, the senior administration official said, briefing reporters on the visit. “We obviously wanted to make sure that if he was going to make the trip he’d get a chance to talk to the main decision maker.”

 

After Sochi, Mr. Kerry heads to Antalya, Turkey, for a Wednesday meeting with foreign ministers of North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations. Mr. Kerry will also meet with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

 

Shortly after his arrival in Sochi, Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lavrov participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Zavokzalny war memorial, dedicated to more than 2,000 Russian soldiers who died from wounds in Sochi hospitals during World War II.

Then again considering China's president sat next to Putin during the May 9 military parade...

... a parade in which Chinese soldiers participated and which was boycotted by all western leaders and, there is little doubt whether the US fake attempt celebrate Russia's defeat of Nazi Germany is either too little or too late.

And speaking of China and Russia, it is hardly a coincidence that the day Putin granted Kerry an audience is also the day when the two superpowers launched their first every joint naval war games, curiously, in the Mediterranean Sea where neither has either an inch of coastline, something the overly defensive LA Times dubbed an "unlikely and provocative."

Which is precisely why the two nations picked it.

The 10 days of maneuvers that got underway Monday will include live-fire exercises in the strategic sea connecting Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The point is lost on no one: A powerful new alliance of eastern giants is flexing its muscles in the very backyard of Western Europe — much as China has done on its own in the Pacific. 

 

The war games follow Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow, where he headlined Victory Day celebrations and spent three days making billion-dollar deals with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia’s World War II allies mostly stayed away.

China's take on the event is far less dramatic than that of the US media outlet. Here is Xinhua:

Chinese and Russian naval forces on Monday launched joint military exercises in the southern Russian port city of Novorossiysk.

 

Military officials from both sides attended a ceremony to mark the beginning of the "Joint Sea-2015" drills, the fourth since joint China-Russia sea drills began in 2012.

 

The drills, slated for May 11-21 in the Mediterranean and involving nine surface ships from both navies, are to be staged in four phases, focusing on maritime defense, replenishment and escorting.

 

The two sides will prepare detailed arrangements for the drills later in the day, and the ships are expected to leave Novorossiysk for waters in the Mediterranean on Tuesday.

 

"The joint drills are not aimed at any third party and have nothing to do with the political situation in that region," a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said.

 

Geng Yansheng, a spokesman for the Chinese Defense Ministry, said earlier in the day that the drills will deepen friendly and pragmatic cooperation between China and Russia, and boost response operation capabilities in the event of security threats at sea.

Back to the western version of things:

“People who call this an axis of convenience ... are missing the bigger picture,” said Gilbert Rozman, a Princeton University professor who writes and teaches on Northeast Asian affairs. “This is a relationship about national identity and the big efforts in both countries to establish a different kind of international order.”

Considering the total collapse of America's attempt to boycott the expansion of China's AIIB, so far they are doing a damn good job. And the US propaganda punchline:

Russia favors a more bipolar relationship with China, Rozman said, while Beijing appears to prefer simultaneously keeping up the momentum in improving ties with the United States in a “triangular” foreign policy model.

Well, that's one version of things. And then there is this: "Main China Daily Xinhua Pens Epic Anti-US Tirade, Bashes America As Source Of All Global Financial Ills."

In conclusion here are some photos of the first ever joint naval drill between China and Russia, not China and the US.