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US Secretary of State Kerry arrives in Russia to meet Putin amid Ukraine, Syria tensions

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry steps out from his airplane as he arrives in Sochi, Russia Tuesday, May 12, 2015. Kerry is in Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin with an eye on easing badly strained relations over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. Kerry was to lay a wreath at a World War II memorial in the Black Sea resort city before meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Putin on the brief visit, his first to Russia since May 2013 and the advent of the Ukraine crisis. (Joshua Roberts/Pool Photo via AP)

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry steps out from his airplane as he arrives in Sochi, Russia Tuesday, May 12, 2015. Kerry is in Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin with an eye on easing badly strained relations over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. Kerry was to lay a wreath at a World War II memorial in the Black Sea resort city before meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Putin on the brief visit, his first to Russia since May 2013 and the advent of the Ukraine crisis. (Joshua Roberts/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, watch as members of the United States and Russian delegations place red flowers at the Zakovkzalny War Memorial in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday May 12, 2015. Kerry is in Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin with an eye on easing badly strained relations over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. (Joshua Roberts/Pool Photo via AP)

    U.S Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, watch as members of the United States and Russian delegations place red flowers at the Zakovkzalny War Memorial in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday May 12, 2015. Kerry is in Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin with an eye on easing badly strained relations over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. (Joshua Roberts/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, center left, watch as members of the United States and Russian delegations place red flowers at the Zakovkzalny War Memorial in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday May 12, 2015. Kerry is in Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin with an eye on easing badly strained relations over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. (Joshua Roberts/Pool Photo via AP)

    U.S Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, center left, watch as members of the United States and Russian delegations place red flowers at the Zakovkzalny War Memorial in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday May 12, 2015. Kerry is in Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin with an eye on easing badly strained relations over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. (Joshua Roberts/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin with an eye on easing badly strained relations over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

Kerry was to lay a wreath at a World War II memorial in the Black Sea resort city before meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Putin on the brief visit, his first to Russia since May 2013.

U.S. officials say Kerry planned to test Putin's willingness to push pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine to comply with an increasingly fragile ceasefire. Kerry will also seek to gauge the status of Russia's support for embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose forces have been losing ground to rebels, the officials say.

After several hours in Sochi, Kerry will depart for a NATO meeting in Turkey.