How can the “deterrent balance” be maintained? This is what new nuclear talks between the US and Russia are all about. However, the Kremlin is dampening expectations.
The nuclear powers USA and Russia have started a new round of disarmament talks. The prelude was a meeting of the Deputy Foreign Ministers on Wednesday in Geneva. On the Russian side, Sergei Ryabkov led the delegation, on the American side, Wendy Sherman.
The one-day meeting dealt with future arms control and risk reduction as well as the consolidation of “strategic stability”, according to the delegations. The first meeting did not bring any concrete results. According to the US, another round is to follow at the end of September. The talks were agreed by US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin at their summit in Geneva in mid-June.
A balance of deterrence is to be achieved
By “strategic stability” is meant a balance of deterrence: For both sides, the consequences of a military attack with nuclear weapons are so negative that they have no incentive to start such a conflict.
The talks are seen as an important signal for global security. The basis is the only remaining major arms control agreement between the United States and Russia: the New Start nuclear disarmament treaty. Shortly before it expired in February, Biden and Putin had agreed on an extension. The New Start Treaty limits the nuclear arsenals of both countries to 800 delivery systems and 1,550 operational nuclear warheads each.
Kremlin: Don’t overestimate the Biden and Putin summits
The Kremlin welcomed the start of the talks. It is a positive signal that experts from both countries have met in Geneva, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov of the Interfax agency in Moscow. “We hope that in the course of the contacts we will at least manage to present the respective position more extensively,” he said.
Kremlin spokesman Peskov added, however, that Putin’s and Biden’s June 16 summit should not be overrated. There is no reason for “illusions”. The talks were useful and constructive, but they also made it clear that there were “serious differences of opinion”. Putin said that he was ready for relations to normalize. The USA remained an opponent.
“The discussions were professional and factual”
The US State Department spokesman, Ned Price, stressed that Wednesday’s meeting marks the start of the agreed dialogue with Russia. The US delegation presented its priorities and assessments. “The talks in Geneva were professional and factual,” he said. Representatives of the US Department of State and Defense would inform the partners at NATO headquarters about the talks on Thursday in Brussels.
The United States had passed several agreements over the past few years with the accusation that Russia was not adhering to the rules. Among them is the INF treaty banning land-based medium-range nuclear weapons. Moscow rejected the allegations and warned that an exit from the agreements could lead to an arms race.
The US had also withdrawn from the treaty for international military observation flights. At the beginning of June, Putin also sealed his country’s exit. The 1992 Open Skies Treaty was seen as an important confidence-building measure.