Russian, US Top Diplomats Meet: In Side-by-Side Translation

Lavrov and Blinken Meet Translation Lavrov and Blinken met from the first time face-to-face. Photo from the Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service.

Both Russia and the US are testing the waters for a possible meeting between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Today, on May 20th, Russian news reported on the first face-to-face meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. While the report ended with Lavrov’s positive assessment of the meeting, it largely focused on speaking negatively about US diplomatic history, the press conference’s organization, and about Antony Blinken’s behavior at the press conference.

A planned meeting between Nikolay Patrushev, the Secretary of the Russian Security Council, and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, was also announced today. Such high level meetings show that both sides are taking the proposed presidential summit seriously. Such meetings are used to establish the agenda of presidential summits in advance and, in the best case scenario, will resolve many major issues, leaving the presidents to discuss the details and come to formal agreements.

However, as the report today shows, both in its subtext and in a direct quote from Lavrov, both sides will have significant roadblocks to overcome if they are to seek improved relations. Making significant headway on this before mid-June, the date proposed by the Biden administration for the summit, will require a herculean effort.

Video of the report, in Russian, is provided below along with a transcript in side-by-side translation. The English is roughly translated to help students of Russian better understand the Russian side as they read it. Also, note that the quote given from Blinken has not been translated, but rather taken directly from the original English, as given by a transcript provided the US Embassy in Moscow. Thus, students can compare the report’s translation of Blinken’s statement as well.

Министр иностранных дел России Сергей Лавров и госсекретарь США Энтони Блинкен впервые встретились лично и провели переговоры. Главы внешнеполитических ведомств общались дольше запланированного, обсудили широкий круг тем. Сами переговоры прошли в Рейкьявике в преддверии заседания Арктического совета. Руководитель нашего МИД уже принял в нем участие. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met for the first time for face-to-face talks. The chief diplomats talked longer than planned and discussed a wide range of topics. The talks took place in Reykjavik ahead of a meeting of the Arctic Council. The Russian Foreign Ministry head has previously taken part in it (the council).
Обсуждение холодной Арктики в последние годы вызывает жаркие споры. Причиной тому огромные неразработанные запасы энергоресурсов. Главная задача Арктического совета в том, чтобы развивать экономическую деятельность и сотрудничество в регионе без ущерба и для него, и для общей стабильности. В Арктическом совете председательствовала Исландия. Сегодня роль лидера организации на два года перешла к России. Issues surrounding the cold Arctic have been hotly debated in recent years. The reason for this is the huge, undeveloped energy reserves there. The main task of the Arctic Council is to develop economic activity and cooperation in the region without harming it (the region) and (while) supporting overall stability. Iceland was chairing the Arctic Council. Today, the organization’s leadership role has passed to Russia for two years.
Стратегический план сотрудничества по Арктике должны были принять еще два года назад. Текст практически утвердили, но все сорвалось из-за США: администрация Трампа не считала климатическую повестку заслуживающей большого внимания, а в Арктике все в первую очередь связано с вопросами экологии. A strategic cooperation plan for the Arctic should have been adopted two years ago. The text was practically approved, but everything fell through because of the United States: the Trump administration did not consider the climate agenda deserving of much attention, and in the Arctic everything is related primarily to environmental issues.
Помимо экологических проблем, все более актуальной становится тема безопасности. Норвегия пытается втянуть в Арктику войска НАТО. Россия категорически против, и Сергей Лавров заранее обещал коллегам «откровенный разговор». In addition to environmental problems, the topic of security is becoming increasingly relevant. Norway is trying to draw NATO troops into the Arctic. Russia is categorically opposed to this, and Sergei Lavrov promised his colleagues a “frank talk” in advance.
Накануне рабочий день у Сергея Лаврова затянулся допоздна. Двусторонние переговоры с госсекретарем США Энтони Блинкеном на полях саммита. Традиционного рукопожатия нет. Здороваются локтями. Так началась их первая личная встреча с момента прихода к власти в США новой администрации. The day before, Sergey Lavrov’s working day dragged on until late. Bilateral talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken were held on the sidelines of the summit. There was no traditional handshake; they greeted with their elbows. Thus began their first personal meeting since the new administration came to power in the United States.
«Мы серьезно расходимся в оценке международной ситуации. Мы серьезно расходится в подходах к тем задачам, которые необходимо решать для ее нормализации. Наша позиция очень простая: мы готовы обсуждать все без исключения вопросы при понимании, что это обсуждение будет честным, с фактами на столе и, конечно, на взаимной уважительной основе. Закон о дипломатии предполагает взаимность и в том числе в том, что касается ответа на какие-то недружественные действия», — отметил Сергей Лавров. “We seriously disagree in our assessment of the international situation. We seriously disagree in how to approach the problems that need to be solved to normalize it. Our position is very simple: we are ready to discuss all issues, without exception, on the understanding that the discussion will be honest, with the facts on the table and, of course, on a mutually respectful basis. The law of diplomacy presupposes reciprocity, including with regard to responding to any unfriendly actions,” said Sergei Lavrov.
Энтони Блинкен обращается вроде бы к сидящему за столом собеседнику, но смотрит на американских журналистов, словно делает заявление для прессы. Antony Blinken seemed to address his conversation partner sitting across the table, but looked at the American journalists as if he were making a statement to the press.
«Мы хотим стабильных и предсказуемых отношений с Россией. Это в интересах нашего народа, вашего и в целом для мира. Не секрет, что у нас есть расхождения. И, как сказал президент Байден в разговоре с президентом Путиным, если Россия будет действовать враждебно в отношении нас, наших партнеров или союзников, мы будем отвечать. Наши интересы во многих сферах пересекаются, и мы верим, что мы можем сотрудничать», — заявил Энтони Блинкен. “We seek a predictable, stable relationship with Russia. We think that’s good for our people, good for the Russian people, and, indeed, good for the world… It’s also no secret that we have our differences. And when it comes to those differences, as President Biden has also shared with President Putin, if Russia acts aggressively against us, our partners, our allies, we’ll respond… there are many areas where our interests intersect and overlap and we believe that we can work together…” said Antony Blinken.
Небольшой зал не смог бы вместить всех желающих журналистов, потому пустили только некоторые российские СМИ, американские и исландские. Поставили ограждения, чтобы распределить прессу по национальному признаку — так легче избежать конфликтов в борьбе за более выгодную точку. Протокольная съемка длилась всего несколько минут. The small hall could not accommodate all the interested journalists, so only some Russian, American, and Icelandic reporters were allowed to enter. They erected fences to divide the press along national lines – this way it is easier to avoid conflicts as they struggle for more advantageous views. The perfunctory filming lasted only a few minutes.
Продолжались переговоры два часа. Результаты Москва оценивает позитивно. Не только сам факт встречи — положительный сигнал, но и то, что разговор получился содержательным. The negotiations continued for two hours. Moscow evaluated the results positively. Not only is the very fact of the meeting a positive signal, but also the fact that the conversation turned out to be meaningful.
«Есть понимание необходимости преодолеть нездоровую ситуацию, которая сложилась в отношениях между Москвой и Вашингтоном в предыдущие годы. Завалов очень много, разгребать их непросто, но я почувствовал у Энтони Блинкена и его команды нацеленность на то, чтобы это сделать. За нами дело не станет», — сказал глава МИД РФ. “There is an understanding of the need to overcome the unhealthy situation that has developed within the relations between Moscow and Washington in recent years. There are a lot of roadblocks, it is not easy to break them, but I felt Antony Blinken and his team were determined to do it. We will be working on this,” said the head of Russia’s Foreign Ministry.
Об итогах переговоров Сергей Лавров тут же доложил президенту России. Как отметил пресс-секретарь главы государства Дмитрий Песков, Владимир Путин примет решение о возможной встрече с президентом США Байденом, учитывая и результаты разговора в Рейкьявике. Sergei Lavrov immediately reported on the results of the negotiations to the President of Russia. As the press secretary of the head of state Dmitry Peskov noted, Vladimir Putin will decide on a possible meeting with US President Biden, taking into account the results of the conversation in Reykjavik.

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About the Author

Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson is the Assistant Director for The School of Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS) and Communications Director for Alinga Consulting Group. In those capacities, he has been managing publications and informative websites covering geopolitics, history, business, economy, and politics in Eurasia since 2003. He is based in Moscow, Russia. For SRAS, he also assists in program development and leads the Home and Abroad and Challenge Grant scholarship writing programs.

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