By Mark Adomanis, The Moscow Times, 17 May 2015
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's recent trip to Sochi to meet with President Vladimir Putin, the first noteworthy Russian-American diplomatic exchange in the better part of a year, was not exactly a productive trip.
After the meeting, Russia and the United States were every bit as much at loggerheads as they were before. NATO expansion, the war in Ukraine, European energy security, ballistic missile defense, the fate of Syrian President Bashar Assad: there was no shortage of issues on which Washington and Moscow continued to occupy diametrically opposed positions.
Putin and Kerry reached no kind of "grand compromise." They couldn't even credibly claim to have made meaningful progress on one of the more specific, technical areas in which the United States and Russia have continued (in an extremely limited and very narrow way) to cooperate.
The purpose of the meeting, rather, was to demonstrate a modicum of good faith. By meeting in person, Kerry and Putin were able to show their respective governments and the rest of the world that the lines of communication between the two sides, which had broken down almost entirely over the past year as Russia more and more blatantly intervened in Ukraine, were once again open.