President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Sergey Lavrov, foreign minister of Russia, on Wednesday morning. Reporters will be barred from the meeting, which is scheduled to be conducted in the Oval Office at the White House.
The meeting will follow a meeting between the Russian diplomat and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier Wednesday morning. The State Department says Lavrov and Tillerson are scheduled to discuss issues related to Ukraine, Syria, and various bilateral topics.
The meetings will be held against the backdrop of Senate hearings into Russia’s alleged interference into the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The ongoing investigation of Russia’s role in boosting Trump’s candidacy, plus increased tension over events in Syria and Ukraine, ensure that the diplomats will have many pressing matters to discuss.
Not on the agenda, but sure to weigh heavily on the minds of diplomats, is the sudden termination of FBI director James Comey, who was leading the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Both the White House and the Kremlin have denied any collusion. American intelligence services remain convinced that the Russian government was behind hacking and misinformation campaigns during the election, but the Kremlin has disclaimed responsibility.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson frequently worked with Russian government and corporate officials in his former role as CEO of ExxonMobil. Tillerson was awarded the Russian Order of Friendship by Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2013.