US and Russia hold discreet Geneva talks on nuclear stability

The discreet talks are taking place behind closed doors. But it is hoped they are the start of a new disarmament process. Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

After the fanfare of the Biden-Putin summit in Geneva in June, discreet follow-up talks between high-level officials have been taking place in the Swiss city.

This content was published on July 28, 2021 - 18:37

The US State department described Wednesday's talks at the US diplomatic mission in Geneva as "professional and substantive", while Russian news agency TASS quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying the Americans showed readiness for a constructive dialogue at the talks. The two sides agreed to meet again in September. 

Delegations were headed by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and her Russian counterpart Ryabkov, who have a mandate from their presidents to launch a “deliberate and robust dialogue […] that will seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures”, as the US State Department said last week announcing the talks.

Russia in January approved a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control treaty with the United States, just days before it was due to expire. This treaty limits the numbers of strategic nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers that Russia and the United States can deploy. The two sides were expected to discuss on Wednesday which weapons systems and technologies are of greatest concern, Andrey Baklitskiy of the Centre for Advanced American Studies at Moscow State Institute of International Relations told journalists in Geneva.

Swiss President Guy Parmelin said in June he hoped the Biden-Putin summit would be a “starting point” for new disarmament negotiations that would have “positive repercussions for the two countries concerned and for the whole world”.

The dialogue comes amid US-Russia tensions on several fronts, with Washington threatening Moscow with action if Russia does not stop a wave of cyberattacks that US officials say originate largely from its territory. Russia has denied responsibility.

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