The US announced that White House national security adviser John Bolton will meet in June with his Russian and Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem.
In an article published in the liberal Russian media outlet Republic.ru, Russian expert Vladimir Frolov wrote that the meeting will focus on Iran, stressing that Russia is prepared to take in consideration and promote American interests regarding expanding the Iranian deal in terms of setting limits on Iran with regards to its regional expansion and aggressive actions via 'allies'.
According to Frolov, the question is what Moscow is going to get from Trump in return for its mediation role. The Russian expert concluded that the meeting between Bolton and the Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev in Jerusalem, with the Israeli mediation, followed immediately by the results of talks between the US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin presidents at the G-20 leaders' summit in Osaka will make everything clearer.
Below are excerpts of Frolov's article:
Vladimir Frolov (Source: Republic.ru)
The Trilateral Meeting Will Be Held Simultaneously With The Putin-Trump Meeting In Osaka Or Immediately Afterwards
"Moscow and Washington simultaneously announced last week that a trilateral meeting would take place in Jerusalem, which will include the National Security Advisors of the US, Russia and Israel: John Bolton, Nikolai Patrushev and Meir Ben-Shabath. Some media outlets decided to call that meeting almost a summit, thus generating speculations regarding preparations for a mysterious Putin-Trump-Netanyahu meeting on regional security. Yet, this is no more than hyperbole. The Russian side defines the upcoming meeting as 'experts' consultations'.
"From Moscow's perspective it's simultaneously both good and a bad news. It's a bad news since the meeting represents a diminished status of bilateral dialogue - National Security Advisors. Patrushev was supposed to come to Washington (at Bolton's invitation), and here a diluted substitute is proposed (probably, the Americans decided not to mess with temporarily lifting the sanctions prohibiting Patrushev from visiting the US).
"Bedsides, Patrushev-Bolton negotiations could have been a major stage in preparations for a Putin-Trump meeting in Osaka at the end of June on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit. This meeting was announced by Trump himself as well as by Pompeo, yet it has not been confirmed through the official channels, while there is also no format or agenda for that meeting. A month has gone by since Pompeo's visit to Putin in Sochi and only three weeks remain before the Osaka G-20 summit, yet, according to Russian Presidential aide Yuri Ushakov, no 'further signals' have arrived from Washington regarding the preparations for the meeting. As the Russian saying goes: he invited her to visit, but has not left any specific address.
"Patrushev and Bolton, according to the announced schedule, will hold a meeting in Jerusalem either simultaneously with the presidential meeting in Osaka or immediately afterwards (Bolton usually attends G-20 summits, Patrushev does not). This is quite good in itself – if they will elaborate on agreements reached between the presidents, yet it is more likely that there will be no such agreements. Judging by the preparation failure - in case the meeting between the presidents takes place anyway, it will end with media buzz and general mess. Taking that into consideration, the regional context of trilateral National Security Advisors' meeting is good news…
For Russia, Participating In A Restart Of US-Iranian New Negotiations Bears Great Potential Benefits
"Simultaneously Moscow intensifies its diplomatic efforts regarding Iran. Deputy FM Sergey Raybkov, one of the JCPOA negotiators, has recently visited Tehran and delivered a message that Iran should be reserved and avoid provocations. Ryabkov unequivocally requested form Iran not to quit NPT and avoid implementing the ultimatum regarding JCPOA and uranium enrichment.
"Earlier Putin warned Iran that quitting the JCPOA would be counterproductive, as it would be Tehran which would be held responsible for dismantling the agreement and would be left alone to face the American 'maximum pressure' policy. Simultaneously, Putin has delivered a message to Europe and the US, that Russia is not going to perform as a 'fire brigade' in order to 'save something that is not fully dependent on Moscow'. Putin also added that we have played our role and are prepared to play a further positive role, but this does not depend solely on us' – this was a hint that a renewal of the negotiation process with Iran would require a revision of the maximalist American position. Negotiations on the basis of Pompeo's '12 point ultimatum' would not work.
"Ryabkov's Tehran voyage demonstrates that our game still goes on. References to a 'fire brigade probably reflect the latest meeting with Pompeo in Sochi and an American request to assist in renewing negotiations with Iran. Though [Russian] Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov modestly says that 'we do not impose our services', in fact Moscow wants to play a notable mediation role between the US and Iran. Participating in a restart of US-Iranian new negotiations bears great benefits; the question is how you arrange payment for services rendered…
Putin Personally Rejected Iranian's Request To Purchase S-400 Air Defense Missiles
"[These are] signals to Washington that Russia is prepared to take in consideration and promote American interests regarding expanding the Iranian deal in terms of setting limits on Iran with regards to its regional expansion and aggressive actions via 'allies'. Moscow benefits from limiting Iran's regional activity, since Russia wants to see Tehran terminate its activities in Syria and withdraw its forces. There is another positive signal: Moscow provided a leak averring that Putin personally rejected Iranian's request to purchase S-400 air defense missiles. Definitely, this is also a signal to Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE that their interests are taken into consideration.
"A new deal will require substantive changes of the JCPOA, for example to extend the existing limitation [on enrichment] ... is fully possible. Likewise it should be possible to confine the Iranian missile program to sensible limits. …. Russia may also try to convince Iran to limit its presence in Syria and stop supplying weapons to Hezbollah and other proxies in the region. But in return, the Iranians will demand lifting all American sanctions against them and not only those imposed in connection with their nuclear program. It will be hard to persuade Trump's administration to do that – (even Obama refrained from doing so). Yet, in any case the situation provides Moscow and Washington with substantive content for a dialogue, in which the Americans are far more interested than our side.
"The Kremlin, thus, benefits from the very mediation process, which may provide Trump with a major foreign policy success. (One possible direction for Russia is to persuade Iran that Trump most likely will be re-elected for a second term, and Tehran's current policy of 'waiting out Trump' and 'await the return of the Democrats [to power] and the lifting of sanctions' is not going to work). The question is what Moscow is going to get from Trump. The meeting between Bolton and Patrushev in Jerusalem, with Israeli mediation, followed immediately by the results of talks between the presidents at Osaka may make it quite clear."