U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the presidential residence of Bocharov Ruchey in Sochi, Russia May 12, 2015. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took a risky gamble facing derision and much skepticism when he flew to Russia last week for the first time in two years to meet President Vladimir Putin.Kerry's trip ran counter to international efforts to isolate the Russian president for his actions in Ukraine.A fluent Russian speaker, Nuland has not traveled to Moscow since late 2013 just before Putin incurred global wrath by moving to annex the southern Ukrainian Peninsula of Crimea and backing separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.In the intervening months as fighting in Ukraine has dragged on, U.S.-Russian ties have plunged and U.S. efforts to engage Moscow have stalemated – except on the issue of the Iran nuclear talks where Russian officials are a key player.Kerry has for some time been eager to talk to Putin, amid U.S. fears that the Russian leader is increasingly relying on only a tiny circle of loyal advisors.Some analysts highlighted that in the current climate, U.S. President Barack Obama cannot travel to Russia and risk humiliation by the belligerent Putin.
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