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Russia’s foreign minister still hasn’t called Kerry back

As you head off for your Presidents’ Day weekend, The Cable would just like to note that it’s now been over 72 hours since Secretary of State John Kerry reached out to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — without getting a call back. As The Cable reported earlier this week, Kerry reached out to Lavrov ...

ANATOLIAN NEWS AGENCY/AFP/Getty Images
ANATOLIAN NEWS AGENCY/AFP/Getty Images
ANATOLIAN NEWS AGENCY/AFP/Getty Images

As you head off for your Presidents' Day weekend, The Cable would just like to note that it's now been over 72 hours since Secretary of State John Kerry reached out to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov -- without getting a call back.

As The Cable reported earlier this week, Kerry reached out to Lavrov after North Korea detonated a nuclear bomb on Feb. 11, as well as the foreign ministers of Japan, China, and South Korea. Lavrov, who has been traveling in Africa, is the only foreign minister who didn't answer or return Kerry's call. The State Department is trying very hard not to seem upset about the perceived snub.

As you head off for your Presidents’ Day weekend, The Cable would just like to note that it’s now been over 72 hours since Secretary of State John Kerry reached out to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — without getting a call back.

As The Cable reported earlier this week, Kerry reached out to Lavrov after North Korea detonated a nuclear bomb on Feb. 11, as well as the foreign ministers of Japan, China, and South Korea. Lavrov, who has been traveling in Africa, is the only foreign minister who didn’t answer or return Kerry’s call. The State Department is trying very hard not to seem upset about the perceived snub.

"Well, first of all, let me say that we are relaxed. The secretary is relaxed about this," outgoing State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday. "From our perspective, the secretary would like to talk to him. It’s up to him whether he wants to take that opportunity."

Today, reporters at the State Department briefing were flabbergasted that it is taking this long for the Russian leader to respond.

"Our daily question about Mr. Lavrov:  Has he returned the phone call? Have you found him? Is he missing in action?" one reporter asked.

"They have not yet connected by phone," Nuland said.

"I mean, this is getting kind of ridiculous, isn’t it?" another reporter asked her.

"Look, as we said at that time, as I’ve been saying all week, we’re making it clear that we would like to talk if they want to. If they are too busy or otherwise engaged, the offer stands, and we’ll continue to do other diplomacy," she responded.

Kerry and Lavrov have spoken on the phone just once since the former senator became secretary, and the conversation was all about communicating, Nuland said at the time

"In the phone call with Foreign Minister Lavrov, they obviously started with how important it is to work hard on both sides to maintain the bilateral channel, to keep open lines of communication together, to collaborate as much as we can on as much as we can, but also to be frank with each other when we have disagreements," she said on Feb. 6.

"Do you find this inconsistent with Foreign Minister Lavrov’s having said it was important to keep lines of communication open that he won’t take the call?" Nuland was asked Friday.

"Again, I’m going to refer you to the Russians," she said.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

Tag: Russia

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