Russian President Vladimir Putin could have visited Washington at the start of the year, and US President Donald Trump could have visited Russia in the second half, retiring US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman told Kommersant in an interview.
When asked whether such an option was actually considered, Huntsman nodded.
The two leaders’ plans changed due to the incident at the Kerch Strait in which Ukrainian sailors were captured by Russian border guards. “Yes. I won’t go into the details, but we had big plans,” the ambassador noted.
According to Huntsman, following the release of the Ukrainian sailors, new “opportunities have opened up for negotiations in the Normandy Format and for progress in the implementation of the Minsk Agreements”. Washington considers this process important, the ambassador observed, because the normalization of US-Russia relations depends on “progress with respect to Ukraine”.
When asked if Washington would like to become part of the Normandy Format, Huntsman responded that the US is “ready to contribute to the common cause”. “There’s no time to speculate about who could come or go. There’s a process. There are agreements that have to be implemented. In any case, the US is an interested party, regardless of whether we are inside [the process] or somewhere nearby,” he said.