World Economy

What to expect from Tillerson-Lavrov meet, according to one expert

Vaibhavee Sinha
US and Russia relations at a post-Cold-War low: Stratfor

While the target of U.S. missiles may have been a Syrian military airfield, much of the resulting commentary said the most obvious damage was done to the U.S.-Russia relationship.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been the most difficult since the end of the Cold War, the Kremlin said on Tuesday. That came ahead of the meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"Washington and Moscow right now are looking to decrease tensions … because we're at a new post-Cold War low," Lauren Goodrich, senior Eurasia analyst at Stratfor, told CNBC's "Rundown" on Wednesday.

Tillerson has a history with the Kremlin from his time at Exxon, which had provoked speculation that he would help usher in a detente between the U.S. and Russia. However, Tillerson offered an ultimatum going into Moscow that Russia could either give up its support for the Assad regime or face isolation.

"This is not the year that Russia thought it was going to be having, it thought with the new administration that it would be able to reshape relations with ... the U.S.," Goodrich said.

According to Goodrich, Russia has managed to back itself into a corner over issues such as election meddling and Syria, "so instead, relations have gotten worse," and so Russia needs to find a way to break its isolation and the momentum behind growing tensions.

With Moscow wanting existing sanctions to end, its tone ahead of the meeting has appeared to seek compromise on topics such as arms control, and anti-ISIS campaigns, Goodrich explained.

Amid the tensions, Goodrich said there was a silver lining: "[The U.S.] is talking about personality sanctions, which are not really the big bad destructive ones on the Russian economy." She added that as long as new sanctions are limited, they shouldn't significantly worsen relations between the countries.

According to Goodrich, although the tense tone has already been set, the negotiations have to start somewhere. The outcome of this meeting, she said, depends on how much pressure the U.S. exerts, and if Russia starts playing "harder-ball" as "it is not like Moscow's just going to be giving concessions left and right."