Russia declines Kerry's calls, says foreign minister is busy
February 16th, 2013
06:47 PM ET

Russia declines Kerry's calls, says foreign minister is busy

By CNN's Jill Dougherty, Jamie Crawford and Gregory Wallace

Secretary of State John Kerry's Tuesday call to his Russian counterpart has gone unanswered for nearly a week after North Korea tested a nuclear device.

Kerry called Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and top diplomats with the three other countries – South Korea, China and Japan - that had been in negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear program.  But Kerry was not connected to Lavrov, who was in Africa for a conference and had "a very overloaded work schedule," according to Russian government spokesman Alexander Lukashevich. He said that the United States did not make additional attempts to call Lavrov.

Russia is an ally of North Korea and a member of the six nations that have held talks over the North Korean nuclear program. The U.S. and North Korea also find themselves on opposite sides of the situation in Syria and have sparred over Russian restrictions on adoptions between the two countries.

It is not the first time Moscow has not returned calls from the State Department: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had difficulty getting through to her counterpart when she was in the post.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday that “the Foreign Minister has not yet chosen to return the call” to Kerry, but that Kerry was “relaxed about this” and not concerned.

“It's not all that unusual in our recent experience that when Foreign Minister Lavrov is traveling, he does not always engage in international phone calls on other subjects,” she told reporters. “I refer you to the Russians (for more information) as to why that may be, but we are open to talking when he is.”

On Friday, she said the two still had not talked, and “If they (Russian diplomatic officials) are too busy or otherwise engaged, the offer stands, and we'll continue to do other diplomacy.”

Lukashevich, the Russian government spokesman, responded to reporters that, “The comments by Ms. Nuland do not reflect what actually happened in organizing a telephone conversation between the heads of the external relations agencies.”

He was apparently highlighting that after the Tuesday, February 12, call, “we received no further request from the State Department either on the 13th or the 14th.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday a meeting between Kerry and Lavrov could "probably" be scheduled for March, but that his boss' February schedule was too busy for a meeting.

“We have no clear idea for now what the Russian foreign minister's and U.S. secretary of state’s schedules will be like and where they could cross," he told the Russian-based news agency Interfax.

The North Korean nuclear test this week followed a December rocket launch. The country is said to be planning additional launches this year in an effort to pressure negotiations.

soundoff (63 Responses)
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    January 7, 2014 at 3:12 am | Reply
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    March 8, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Reply
  5. James

    Screw them–Lets start the cold war all over again–I loved seeing all those ICBM's everywhere. Kind of gave me a warm and secure feeling–

    February 23, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  6. Dallas Pipkin

    I will immediately grab your rss as I can't find your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you've any? Please let me know so that I could subscribe. Thanks. Dallas Pipkin

    February 22, 2013 at 8:07 am | Reply
  7. Boombox

    What's surprising is how many people don't see the hypocrisy. Russia foreign minister having a busy schedule = snub. Foreign politicians and diplomats having to be at the US Secretaries beck and call 24/7 = perfectly ok.

    February 21, 2013 at 7:14 am | Reply
    • Marina

      There is nothing wrong with this! After all Russia is no USA and it should get used to their new position in the world. Nothing to brag about.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:31 am | Reply
  8. Marina

    During today's speech at UVA not a word about Russia was mentioned. A big mistake!
    A GREAT speech, but Russia with its issues were not mentioned at all. Very disappointing!

    February 20, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Reply
  9. Marina

    SoS J. Kerry should pay a greater attention to unprecedented levels of anti-americanism in Russia exceeding those during the cold war days. This is alarming and should be taken seriously. Non withstanding tremendous violations and abuses of human rights in Russia. USA underestimates the grave danger Russia present to this country and to all democratic world at large.

    February 20, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Reply
  10. Hahahahahahahah

    Offer them some Heinz 57!!! They can't refuse that. Hahahahahahahahah

    February 18, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Reply
  11. The Mayor of Medinah

    I wouldn't take a call from Herman Munster either

    February 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Reply
    • Den-O

      LOL Darn, darn, darn, darn !

      February 18, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  12. Den-O

    I'm sure he'll call just as soon as he, and the rest of Russia, stops laughing at us for reelecting Obama. Why do you think that Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and the rest of America's rivals wanted Obama to win. Because he'll make America stronger ? More successful ? Richer ? America is now in a full tailspin and they're loving it !

    February 18, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Reply
  13. qwerty tapper

    lets all face the facts here, canada is the real super power,
    canada is currently working on high powered water pistols that can shoot super condensed maple syrup up to 20,000 miles
    we currently posses 18,000 high powered pine cone launchers that can shoot up to 1000 pine cones per second
    with a velocity that can take out an array of incoming missiles and/or satellites in space
    our soldiers span many species of earth creatures not just human, our platoons of beavers and moose are a force to be reckoned with, F33r ThE 8e4ver

    February 18, 2013 at 11:58 am | Reply
    • maximumbob52

      Damn good thing we have you guys from the 51 states looking out for us!

      February 20, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Reply
    • CharlestonBoy

      This is clearly George Bush's fault.
      I know, I know....he left office six years ago, but still....

      February 21, 2014 at 12:21 am | Reply
    • CharlestonBoy

      And don't forget the one weapon that's already destroyed much of America....Justin Beiber.

      February 21, 2014 at 12:22 am | Reply
  14. Pete

    Just remember to tell Russia to hold on next time they need foriegn aid or assistence like years ago,remember the massive wheat,grain shipments that helped their starving asses,I do!!We should've let Patton march his troops up to Moscow in WWII and kicked their Russian asses they certainly needed it!!

    February 18, 2013 at 9:55 am | Reply
    • The Mayor of Medinah

      at least they learned that they could not keep spending money atthe speed of light

      February 18, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  15. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    February 17, 2013 at 10:49 pm | Reply
    • CharlestonBoy

      Yes, that's why millions of Americans are leaving daily to move to those places elsewhere that you consider Idyllic.
      Even Homeland Security has been unable to stem the exodus to s**tholes like the one you inhabit.

      February 21, 2014 at 12:26 am | Reply
  16. Ruskie

    First off, Lavrov said he tried calling Kerry back numerous times and never got a response, secondly Russian government told Kerry that Lavrov was out on business the first time Kerry called. John Kerry can shut his whiny mouth. I'm American and proud of it, but our government thinks they can boss every other country around and domwhat they want. News flash, Putin has been somewhat nice to Obama and his administration just so a war doesn't break out. Putin can't stand Obama or the United States, and for good reasons! but at least he is keeping his mouth shut, unlike Kerry, Obama and the rest if the children. And to every egotistical American who thinks we can wipe out any nation we want, just so you know, Russia has weapons you never want to see, they know our weaknesses because we are gullible. Countries like Russia and China will only take the pressure for so much longer. They will not cave into American and Western preside, instead they are preparing for war secretly while the American people continue to be Call Of Duty heroes.

    February 17, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Reply
    • Alex279

      As far as I can tell, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov has a very busy schedule. He spent last ween in Africa visiting a dozen countries, meeting with foreign ministers and presidents, occasionally showing up on TV news, e.g., he made a statement about NK nuclear test from Pretoria, South Africa.

      So what is a big deal here? Sec. Kerry should get used to that Russia is a big country with very busy foreign minister, who has been a top ranking diplomat for over 40 years of career. As FM Sergey Lavrov outlasted Sec. Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Sec. Clinton, and will probably outlast Sec. Kerry as well.

      February 17, 2013 at 10:43 pm | Reply
      • Alex279

        Americans should learn that there two people in Russia who enjoy overwhelming respect among solid 100.00% of all Russians regardless of whether some of them like Putin and Medvedev and some do not. FM Sergey Lavrov is one of them. Sergey Shoigy (former minister of emergencies, now minister of defense) is the other one.

        February 17, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
      • tom edwards

        Very informative. Now, tell us comrade, what do the Russian working people have to say about the "leaders"?
        Remember comrade, the working citizens of Russia did not want Putin back in office, however, the dead came out in large numbers and showtime was installed again.

        February 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
      • maximumbob52

        Damn, an intelligent comment. Well said!

        February 20, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • tortues

      America is sadly going down with its numerous lies and misleading information, its all the press though the root of the prob. hope the citizens will be wiser.
      Live AFRICA!

      February 19, 2013 at 2:43 am | Reply
    • rOBERT

      Russia can't stand US because they are jellous that they broke up in a thousand pieces and their former colonies of Baltic states are our partners. Their economy has not diversified and are still depending on gas and oil revenues. I think we need to withdraw from the ISS and start our mission to Mars. Every corner they mock US, They abused those countries for decades and now Putin, ex KGB is frustrated that alcoholism and crime are taking over. Putin wants another Stalinist state.

      March 8, 2013 at 2:58 am | Reply
  17. Coley

    Putin and Russia would do well to remember that they are no longer a super power. Just another third world country that happens to have nukes—like Pakistan, North Korea or... the United States.

    February 17, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Reply
    • Don't kid yourself

      Russia is the sleeping BEAR with lots of wealth they are currently developing. Their military presence will be known again in the future. Never underestimate Russia. The defense department is well aware of this sleeping menace.

      February 17, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Reply
      • Solomon Walker

        Sorry, but I don't even think about Russia, most of the time, unless CNN writes another news story about it.

        February 17, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
  18. Solomon Walker

    Bradley Miller of NC returned – paid about $6.00 worth of postage of case evidence copies paid for with state and federal tax dollars back to me instead of simply putting it into the shredder/recycle bin in his officer when he was through reviewing it. I was never able to get through on the phone to speak with this man, though I've been able to speak with many others in law enforcement or with community leaders. I was shocked by Mr. Miller's less than enthusiastic behavior failing to justify the purpose for his presence in Washington, DC for the state of NC.

    Truly these men believe that they are above all others, including Mr. Kerry that insults our we traipse about the world telling other nations how to run their countries, I think we have a little housekeeping to do, first. And, perhaps some lessons in propriety are required.

    February 17, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  19. midnightlavue

    "Comment by Russian MFA Spokesman A.K.Lukashevicha due to the speculations in the media about the organization call Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

    It is surprising that a purely working the harmonization of time a call of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the U.S. Secretary of State continues to attract attention as a painful press corps in Washington.
    We have already explained why Lavrov could not speak immediately after the request, as well as about our alternatives. American side, if and reacted, only through V.Nuland on the podium.
    In connection with the regular discussions on this topic gosdepovskogo spokesman would like to emphasize that despite the super-dense schedule Lavrov during his visit last week to Africa, the opportunity for the organization of such contact was available. In particular, we proposed that the U.S. side to the leaders of our foreign ministers talked on February 14, call the specified time interval. However, not having received confirmation from John Kerry, felt that the issue was dropped.
    We hope that clarity to the situation included, and this story will not have a return."

    February 17, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Reply
    • Alex279

      "...В связи с очередными рассуждениями на эту тему госдеповского пресс-секретаря хотели бы..." - oh boy! I missed this. ...госдеповского... literally. Wow! And this OFFICIAL web suite of Foreign Ministry of Russian Federation. Now I wonder when we will here word пиндосовского coming from the mouse of not a pundit like Mikhail Leontliev, but from a FM official like Alexander Lukashevich.

      February 18, 2013 at 11:58 pm | Reply
  20. Stating the Obvious

    Obviously the Obama administration's "reset" with Russia/Putin has failed.....BADLY.

    Is anyone else out there embarrassed?

    February 17, 2013 at 8:45 am | Reply
    • DianD

      Embarassed... Considering certain diplomatic blunders of the pre-Obama era then nope, we haven't gotten to the laughable state of the past.

      February 17, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Reply
      • Solomon Walker

        Depends who you talk to, Ma'am.

        February 17, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Alex279

      Embarrassed? Hardly. There is an established pattern that the position of Secretaries of State is used as and expendable person-to-blame: basically at time of retirement whoever is the Sec. of State takes the responsibility for all the blunders committed during the contemporal administration and resigns, so the administration (president, vice president, etc..) can continue on after this face saving trick.

      Colin Powell was lying to UN about Iraqi WMD which was instrumental to start the war in Iraq 10 years ago. Later he admitted he was lying during Charlie Rose interview and said that he "regrets". Wolfowitz/Rumsfeld/Rice/Cheney never admitted any wrongdoing.

      Condoleezza Rice, while did not admit major blunders, ended up being complete disaster and disgrace in eyes of Russians, and perhaps most of the world outside the "coalition of willing", so it becomes obvious that a RESET is needed. It become so obvious, that even most Americans realized it. It plain language "reset" is nothing less than a compete divorce from the past.

      Hillary Clinton openly took blame for "lack of security in consulate in Bengazi", but also the same thing again: Obama administration realized that a NEW RESET is required.

      About two weeks ago FM Lavrov said literally that "if the system needs reset all the time, then there is something wrong with the system".

      February 18, 2013 at 8:36 pm | Reply
      • Den-O

        " At this point, what doe's it matter anyhow ?" Hillary said the Buck stops with her and then promptly passed the Buck. This qualifies her to be a President so unfortunately we'll start to see her again around the beginning of 2014.

        February 18, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
      • Alex279

        I actually doubt that we will ever see Hillary again. Simply too much ballast on her right now. Obama, whether you like him or not, actually made the point: it is time to shift from old-fashioned anglo-saxonian dominance to something which more adequately represents the bulk of people of Unites States. Basically be different, younger, and actually have a more viable mentality. It would be interesting to see the race for 2016, but my bet is that Hillary is simply non-starter.

        February 18, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
      • Den-O

        I certainly hope not. I don't think I could stomach her through another two year election cycle.

        February 19, 2013 at 12:51 am |
      • tortues

        this is really upsetting to see that they cant find someone as outstanding as Lavrov, don't tell me there are no competent Americans out there, there is a problem with Obamas politic.

        February 19, 2013 at 11:41 am |
      • Alex279

        The problem is that the position of Sec. of State requires a professional diplomat with 20+ years of diplomatic experience. Sitting inside UN Security Counsel and stubbornly pushing for an agenda a`la "do what we say or else we impose sanctions" does not count. It must be real-life field experience with complex negotiations and wisdom to see and identify sanity in basically insane world. Just pushing for sanctions causes deadlocks on all directions. Now US cannot even control Israel - Bibi does all what what he wishes, where he wishes, and when he wishes, from building settlements to starting little war operations. US is left only with the role providing cover by blocking all UN resolutions, but who is the dog and who is its tail here?

        I can hardly a prominent US figure since Henry Kissinger.

        Richard Holbrooke is sometimes quoted as a professional diplomat, but at first he is no longer available, and secondly, his diplomatic achievements we basically the same thing - construction a lousy peace where everybody hates each other using threat of force as the primary tool.

        Hillary was merely a public relations figure. Obviously she liked this. But this is not what diplomacy is about.

        February 19, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  21. 1371U.S.M.C.

    The Russian was too busy flying bomers over our base in Guam to take calls. Just guessing this was the first of many b-slaps we are going to get since no one in the world has any respect or fear of this administration.

    February 17, 2013 at 1:27 am | Reply
    • Alex279

      Take it easy. Blame Hillary, if you want. But what is the point of calling or having a meeting? US accounts for about 4% of volume of Russia's foreign trade and about half of this 4% is Russia import of agricultural products, which Russia currently does not need because it produces enough of it domestically (hence Russia periodically imposes stiffer restriction on level of different chemicals and hormones to ban/restrict imports of US meat and poultry). US imports close to nothing from Russia. Trade volumes between Russia and countries like Germany, China, Ukraine, Italy, France, India, Malaisia, etc.. are much greater and, correspondingly, require attention from Russian FM. Since there is no crisis (aside from Syria, where the positions are deadlock any way) there is no urgency, so it can wait.

      February 18, 2013 at 11:46 pm | Reply
  22. massoud

    He must have caller I.D.

    February 17, 2013 at 1:19 am | Reply
  23. helenecha

    Obviously, Russia has not missed what it needs to do itself, but Russia has missed what we need to do ourselves. Is Russia all right?

    February 16, 2013 at 11:33 pm | Reply
  24. Luke Evans

    kerry is one needy guy

    February 16, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Reply
  25. joe

    lets all just send obama and kerry some lipstick so they can look pretty while the getting f'd by the rest of the world. YES WE DID!

    February 16, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Reply
    • joe


      February 16, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Reply
  26. George Patton

    Kerry should immediately suspend Heinz Ketchup deliveries to Russia.

    February 16, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Reply
  27. franklin

    It's Obama's fault.

    February 16, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Reply

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