In their first meeting, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov both discussed a desire to find ways to work together and advance areas where there are mutual interests — a warmer tone than relations between the two nuclear-armed powers in recent years.
Their meeting laid the groundwork for an expected meeting between President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin next month.
It also came the same day that Blinken Waived sanctions on a German firm and its executive, building a Russian-backed pipeline called Nord Stream 2, despite saying the administration would do all it could to block its completion. The decision to waive sanctions, while targeting several Russian vessels and firms working on the pipeline, enraged Republican and Democratic lawmakers, who mandated such sanctions in a law on Jan. 1.
The two top diplomats shook hands before the cameras and even shared a laugh over the pack of press assembled for their meeting. While their diplomatic niceties paper over deep differences and a real low point in U.S.-Russian relations, the possibility of a Biden-Putin meeting seems to have both sides interested in resolving some issues.