US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is not coming to Moscow on Monday as previously planned, according to a report citing a State Department official. He will still meet the Russian president and foreign minister on Tuesday.
Instead of heading straight for the Russian capital, on Monday Pompeo will hold talks with European officials about “Iran and other issues,” an anonymous State Department official told Reuters.
The cancellation of the Moscow leg of Pompeo’s visit will reportedly not affect his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, which is scheduled to take place in Sochi on Tuesday. Pompeo is expected to talk to them about what Washington calls Russia’s “aggressive and destabilizing actions.” The US has repeatedly accused Russia of meddling all around the world, including most recently in Venezuela, where, according to Pompeo, only the US is allowed to meddle.
Pompeo has spent the past week escalating pressure on Iran, threatening it with “swift and decisive” US action in response to nebulously defined “attack on American interests or citizens” by “[Iran] or their proxies.” On Tuesday, he canceled a visit to Germany and instead went to Iraq, where he hinted that Baghdad should stay away from doing business with Tehran – for the sake of its own independence.
On Friday, the Pentagon said it was sending additional Patriot anti-air missiles to the Middle East in addition to the carrier strike group and bombers it had dispatched to near the Iranian coast as a “warning” a week earlier. Pompeo, meanwhile, has been insisting the US does not want war with Iran.
On Wednesday, Iran announced that it would stop disposing of excess heavy water and uranium, which was one of the key terms of the landmark 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement it had struck with the US, the EU, Russia and China. Tehran accused the EU of caving in to American pressure and failing to stick to its end of the deal. European diplomats shot back by saying the EU “rejects any ultimatums,” but also urged “countries not party to the JCPOA” – which includes the US after its unilateral withdrawal in 2018 – to “refrain from taking any actions that impede the remaining parties’ ability to fully perform their commitments.”