U.S. Department of State

Where Kerry, Putin Can Find Common Ground

The crisis in Ukraine isn't the only item on the agenda for Secretary of State John Kerry's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

By Elizabeth Hagedorn | May 12, 2015

The last time John Kerry met with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin kept him waiting for three hours before showing up. (Video via U.S. Department of State

And that was before all this went down.

"We are examining a whole series of steps — economic, diplomatic — that will isolate Russia," President Obama said.

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" ... consistently isolate Russia ... " Obama said. 

" ... isolate Russia for its actions ... " Obama said.  

So it might come as a surprise that the country that has consistently threatened to isolate Vladimir Putin over his actions in Ukraine is now sending its top diplomat to meet with him. (Video via Kremlin

But the State Department has downplayed the rift ahead of Secretary Kerry's Tuesday meeting with Putin in Sochi.

"It's not just about Ukraine; it's about Syria, it's about Iran, it's about a number of issues. And just because you strongly disagree with what a country is doing … doesn't mean you shouldn't meet with them. In fact, it actually means you should to try and make progress," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

It's true the two countries can find common ground on a few issues. Russia is, after all, participating in the Iran nuclear talks, and both countries want to see ISIS defeated.

But there are plenty of issues where they're at odds. Among them, Russia's planned delivery of an air defense system to Iran and Putin's support of Syria's dictator, Bashar al-Assad. (Video via Kremlin

Oh, and then there's the little issue of Ukraine.

Russia — still subject to U.S. and EU sanctions — consistently denies Western reports it's arming rebels in Eastern Ukraine. (Video via Voice of America

And as recently as Monday, Russia's foreign ministry dismissed the accusations as groundless and blamed the bruised U.S.-Russian relationship on "unfriendly actions by Washington."

This video includes images from the U.S. Department of State

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