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Meeting place can not be Changed?

The Swiss soil has been full of rumors since last Monday. The reason for them was given by the publication in the Russian newspaper Kommersant – in it Switzerland was named as one of the options for holding the Russian-American summit. We thought speculation on this topic was premature, if only because at that time the Kremlin did not give the White House a clear consent to hold a summit meeting, although the dates convenient for President Biden were called – already in June, during his European tour. The development of the situation depended on the first “live” meeting of the heads of the diplomatic departments of the two countries, Sergei Lavrov and Anthony Blinken in Reykjavik, on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council. This meeting took place late in the evening on May 19, but did not give an answer to the question we were interested in: Blinken confirmed that the summit could take place in the coming weeks, Lavrov confirmed Russia’s readiness for a dialogue with the United States, but did not say exactly where this dialogue would take place.

The meeting of the Russian and American presidents in Switzerland would not have become a premiere – everyone knows that in 1985 it was here that Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met for the first time: Nasha Gazeta wrote a lot about this historic meeting and “in general” (about how it was noted 30th anniversary), and from the words of an eyewitness of the events. But in general, the visits of top Russian officials here are rare: Dmitry Medvedev paid a state visit once. Vladimir Putin’s speech to the ILO does not count – all UN organizations from a legal point of view are not located on Swiss territory. So not a lot.

Austria and Finland were also named among the candidates for the venue of the new summit, but our intuition tells us that “they will not pass.” Still, Switzerland is a historical neutral intermediary, an experienced specialist in providing “good offices” – who just did not resort to them for “sorting out situations”, including, in the foreseeable past, Russia – at the time of armed conflicts with Georgia and Ukraine. But she should not rest on her laurels – it is not in vain that Russian Ambassador S.V. Harmonin, speaking two years ago at a “round table” dedicated to the neutrality of Switzerland, asked a rhetorical (?) Question about whether this country is still capable of playing the role of an “honest broker”: seemingly the Swiss were given their “double standards “In connection with the recognition of Kosovo and stubborn non-recognition of Crimea.

Have the relations between Russia and Switzerland changed radically since 1985? Since 2019? In our opinion, no. The semblance of a “warm, friendly atmosphere” continues, at least outwardly, although Russia has hardly ignored the Swiss Foreign Ministry’s demand for the release of Alexei Navalny https://nashagazeta.ch/news/politique/predely-neytraliteta, and more recently – granting political asylum to Russian journalist Dmitry Skorobutov, who claims that Switzerland saved his life.

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… The meeting of Sergei Lavrov and Anthony Blinken in Reykjavik was, in the opinion of its participants, constructive. The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry described the situation as a whole as “unhealthy”, and called bilateral relations “rubble” to be “cleared away”. So you see huge Moscow snowdrifts and a janitor in an earflap on one side, throwing up his hands in bewilderment – how to approach such? And in Geneva it is raining all the time, maybe it will melt the ice in a natural way, so to speak? After all, the main thing, as Mikhail Sergeevich said, is to start!