Hagel and Kerry Meet with Russian Counterparts

Just days after President Obama canceled a planned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the upcoming G20 leaders’ gathering in St. Petersburg, Russia, the US and Russian foreign and defense ministers met at the State Department in Washington, D.C., for discussions. Relations between the two countries are strained, in part due to Russia granting temporary asylum to accused National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. However, at the Aug. 9 “two plus two” meeting, Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and their Russian counterparts Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Shoygu said they were trying to find a way forward on issues facing the nations. In a separate meeting, Hagel and Shoygu agreed it is time to build a “robust agenda” for military cooperation and directed their staffs to assemble plans for more regular and frequent engagements, states the Defense Department’s readout of their conversation. Hagel said DOD is determined “to overcome impediments” to the US-Russia relationship, and would push to allow for improved information sharing, exchanges, joint exercises, and training. Hagel also exchanged views with Shoygu on post-2014 Afghanistan and on the violence in Syria. (See also Kerry-Hagel-Lavrov-Shoygu transcript)