In the latest round of discussions aimed at ironing out the tensions between the world’s top two nuclear powers, interagency delegations from the United States and the Russian Federation convened on Thursday in Geneva for a meeting of the bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue.
The talks held behind closed doors which both sides described as constructive were second meeting since President Biden and President Putin committed in June to an integrated, deliberate, and robust process.
The US and Russia’s delegations held their first face-to-face round of consultations on strategic stability on July 28 in Geneva.
According to the agreement reached by the two delegations led by US State Department’s number two Wendy Sherman Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov, two interagency expert working groups will be formed – the Working Group on Principles and Objectives for Future Arms Control, and the Working Group on Capabilities and Actions with Strategic Effects.
They additionally agreed to hold a third round of consultations of interagency delegations on strategic stability after the working groups start with their meetings.
Following the meeting, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said they had discussed the entire range of issues related to strategic stability and arms control despite the existing differences.
He noted that though it’s a slow process, there is a desire and readiness to move it further.
Ryabkov noted that the working king groups will address the strategic stability issues by exchanging signals rather than questions and answers and will be tasked to analyze each other’s approaches after which it will be more clear when it is time for another offline meeting.
A senior State Department official said on condition of anonymity that the meeting was very productive, interactive and broad-based and went in-depth into multiple issues.
Both Washington and Moscow are set to negotiate a successor to the New START nuclear treaty, but there’s a sort of understanding that there are non-nuclear tools that can have strategic implication so they’d like to expand that sort of a conversation.
Although she declined to give details, the State Department official noted that the simple act of dialogue is sort of part of arms control and the talks discussed broader confidence-building measures and conventional weapons.
Both US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed at the June summit in Geneva to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures by intiating integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue.
Biden and Putin, whose countries hold 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, agreed it’s vital to keep talking despite the differences that divide them.