The nuclear powers, the United States and Russia, have begun a new round of unarmed negotiations. Preface to the meeting of Deputy Foreign Ministers on Wednesday in Geneva. On the Russian side, Sergei Ryapkov led the delegation, and on the American side, Wendy Sherman. Delegates say the one-day meeting dealt with future arms control and risk reduction and strengthening “strategic stability”.
US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to hold talks at a summit in Geneva in June. “Strategic stability” means a preventive balance: for both sides, the consequences of a nuclear-armed military attack are so negative that they have no incentive to start such a conflict.
Negotiations are seen as an important signal for global security. It is based on the only remaining major arms control agreement between the United States and Russia: the new Initial Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Before it expires in February, Biden and Putin agreed to the extension. The New Launch Agreement regulates the two countries’ nuclear arsenal of 800 distribution systems and 1,550 operational nuclear weapons.
The Kremlin welcomed the start of the talks. The meeting of experts from both countries in Geneva is a positive signal, said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Kremlin at Interfox in Moscow. “We hope to present at least the respective position in more detail in the course of the contacts,” he said. So concrete results were not expected on the first day.
Earlier, Deputy Foreign Minister Ryapkov had said that Moscow had already submitted its position and plans in writing to Washington before the first talks this year. Ryapkov said the meeting should begin a process of in-depth analysis on both sides. Its purpose is to find points for “collective cooperation where there is a perspective”.
Kremlin spokesman Peskov said the June 16 summit between Putin and Biden should not be overstated. There is no reason for “illusions”. The talks in Geneva were fruitful and constructive, but also made it clear that there were “serious differences”. Putin said he was ready to normalize relations. America was an enemy. “To our chagrin, there are no joint plans or relationships yet,” Pesco said.
In addition to strategic weapons, experts say missile defense should also be discussed. Andrei Bakliski, a university researcher at the Russian Foreign Ministry, suspected that the meeting was already about definite topics, as he had told reporters in advance: “It’s about getting to know each other and finding a basic understanding between the two sides.”
The United States has executed a number of agreements accusing Russia of not following the rules. Among them is the INF agreement to ban land-based medium-range nuclear weapons. Moscow has denied the allegations, instead warning that pulling out of the deal could lead to an arms race.
The United States withdrew from the agreement on international military surveillance aircraft. In early June, Putin also sealed his country’s exit. The 1992 Open Sky Agreement was seen as an important confidence-building measure.
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