Donilon sets stage for upcoming US, Russia talks

Donilon met with Russian president Vladimir Putin, foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and a host of top Russian national security and foreign policy officials on Monday, according to a White House statement. 

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The meetings focused "on the full range of bilateral issues" facing the two nations, according to National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. 

Those issues ran the gamut, from from alleged human rights violations by Moscow and ongoing rift between the United States and Russia on missile defense, to Russia's stance on the growing crisises in Syria and North Korea. 

"The discussions were comprehensive and constructive" and will set the agenda for September's meeting between Putin and President Obama, Hayden said.

During the meetings, Putin and Lavrov expressed Russia's desire for "ready for active cooperation with the Americans" on several of the issues raised during Monday's meeting with Donilon, Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, told Russian news outlets. 

Obama's proposals on arms control and future bilateral cooperation, according to Putin, were "quite constructive" and represented a number of "positive signals" coming from the White House ahead of the September summit. 

That burgeoning good will, however, may be put to the test over the next five months, as both countries still find themselves on opposite sides on a number of pressing national security issues. 

Russia and the United States have been at loggerheads over the Obama administration's missile defense plans to push those American systems eastward, into European countries along the Russian border. 

Thee White House plans to field a massive network of land and sea-based ballistic missile interceptors to defend against potential long-range missile threats from Iran by 2020.

Russia has strenuously opposed that plan, arguing the weapons could easily be used to take out Russian-operated missile systems stationed in the region.

Moscow pulled out of missile shield talks last year after NATO balked at a Moscow-backed plan forcing the alliance to agree that none of the U.S. missiles would be used to target Russia's own missile defense system.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey met with Russia's top military officer Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russia's top military officier to discuss the administration's missile defense plans for Eastern Europe. 

"I personally believe that we will find common ground with the Russian military," Dempsey said at the time, according to the four-star general's spokesman Col. David Lapan. 

Aside from missile defense issues, Washington is also taking Moscow to task over its treatment of anti-government critics inside Russia. 

Most recently, Washington laid down sanctions against 18 Russian officials for alleged human rights violations against critics of the Putin administration, some of which led to the death of Russian whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky.