Russian President Vladimir Putin told U.S. climate envoy John Kerry that Moscow and Washington have a shared interest in battling climate change, the Kremlin said Wednesday, in a rare area of common ground between the rivals.
"The climate problem is one of the areas where Russia and the United States have common interests and similar approaches," Putin said in a phone call with Kerry who is visiting Moscow, the Kremlin said in a statement.
The former secretary of state is in Russia this week to discuss climate change with officials and has called on the country to cooperate with the U.S. on the issue.
Putin said Moscow "attaches great importance" to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and "advocates de-politicizing" dialogue on climate change.
The comments on a rare point of cooperation between the two countries come after Putin met US President Joe Biden for talks in Geneva last month.
Moscow has welcomed Kerry's visit and called it a positive step to improve relations.
For years Putin was notorious for his skepticism about man-made global warming and saying Russia stands to benefit from it.
But in recent months he has also made statements to the effect that climate change is not just a boon to Moscow.
Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that climate change and decarbonization are "top of the agenda" for the Russian leader.
He said the climate issue is "where dialogue between Russia and America is possible and necessary."
Putin also discussed the "prospects for environmental cooperation in the Arctic" with Kerry, according to the Kremlin statement.
He has made the development of Russia's Arctic region a strategic priority as its ice cover melts, opening up new shipping routes for Moscow.
Earlier this week, Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — whom he met many times when he served as secretary of state — with the pair agreeing to cooperate on climate issues.
At his annual state of the nation address in April, Putin said Russia must adapt to climate change and called on the country to create an industry for utilising carbon emissions.
Climate change is one of the few areas in which the United States and the European Union have said they are ready to engage with Russia amid high tensions over a range of issues, including Ukraine, cyber-attacks and Moscow's human rights record.