– The situation in Belarus, as well as a number of bilateral issues of Russian-American relations, is expected to be discussed by the first U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Bigan during a visit to Moscow on August 25-26. Bigan plans to visit Moscow on Tuesday, he will fly from Vilnius, where he previously met with the leader of the Belarusian opposition Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. From Moscow, he is expected to go to Kyiv.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan said yesterday that a high-ranking American diplomat is expected to hold consultations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, his deputies Sergei Ryabkov and, probably, with Igor Morgulov, as well as with representatives of Russian civil society. Former Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax that Moscow plans to discuss the situation in Belarus.
At the same time, the deputy minister stressed that “it would be wrong to say that this will be the only main topic of discussion.”
“Of course, the situation in Belarus and the attempts of certain external forces to influence the development of this situation will be considered during Bigan’s stay in Moscow,” the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister said.
According to the deputy minister, “the first deputy secretary of state deals with other issues.” “Among other things, we meant to discuss with him in-depth everything related to Russian-American relations in a variety of aspects of Russia,” Ryabkov said.
In his turn, Ambassador Sullivan said at a briefing the day before that the Deputy Secretary of State also plans to raise the issue of the inadmissibility of attempts of external influence on the situation in Belarus.
However, Washington blames Moscow for this intervention. “Obviously, external interference in Belarus is a cause for concern. Russia, among others, has influence from the outside,” Sullivan said.
According to him, “it is necessary to let the Belarusian people decide their fate without outside influence; This is a matter of principle that will be raised by Deputy Secretary of State Bigan during a meeting with Russian officials” Besides Belarus, Bigan in Moscow can discuss arms control issues and regional issues, including the situation around the DPRK, as well as the issue of the release of imprisoned U.S. citizens in Russia, the head of the U.S. diplomatic mission said.
According to the ambassador, Bigan “will raise the issue of Americans imprisoned in Russia – Paul Whelan, Trevor Reed, and Michael Calvey.”
“The deputy secretary will note, as I have said many times before, that the so-called trials of Paul Wilan and Trevor Reed were a mockery of justice,” Sullivan said.
During his visit to Moscow, Bigan is expected to meet with representatives of Russian civil society, which has become a tradition during visits of high-ranking American diplomats to Russia.
“Independent voices are a key element of any democracy and it is important that those voices are heard,” Sullivan said.
“We have seen many cases of Russian law enforcement officers arresting citizens who took part in peaceful protests in Moscow this summer, thus further restricting freedom of expression,” he said.