This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The State Department said after U.S.-Russian talks in Geneva on strategic nuclear stability that the July 28 meeting was “substantive and professional” and the two sides agreed to hold a further plenary round of high-level talks in late September.
Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin agreed at their summit last month that their countries’ representatives would meet to seek agreement on reductions to their respective nuclear arsenals.
“We remain committed, even in times of tension, to ensuring predictability and reducing the risk of armed conflict and threat of nuclear war,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on July 28.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the talks focused on “maintaining strategic stability, the prospects for arms control, and measures to reduce risks.”
Both sides look forward to “further development of cooperation,” Moscow said.
The so-called Strategic Stability Dialogue comes against a backdrop of high diplomatic tension that was evident at the summit, including over replacing the now-extended New START treaty.
Already strained relations between Moscow and Washington have deteriorated further since Biden took office in January, with the United States sanctioning Russia over cyberattacks, election meddling, and the poisoning and jailing of opposition politician and Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman led the U.S. delegation, while Russia’s team was headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov for the one-day talks on July 28.
The State Department said there were no breakthroughs but that the two sides will consult informally and identify topics for expert working groups ahead of the late-September meeting.
Price said the meeting was “the beginning of this dialogue with the Russian Federation.”
“The U.S. delegation discussed U.S. policy priorities and the current security environment, national perceptions of threats to strategic stability, prospects for new nuclear arms control, and the format for future Strategic Stability Dialogue sessions,” the State Department spokesman said.
U.S. officials will brief NATO allies on the talks with Russia in Brussels on July 29.
Biden and Putin pledged last month to “lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.”
The exact agenda of the talks was not made public, but media reports said the major focus would be on strategic stability issues such as how to move beyond the New START treaty that Biden and Putin have agreed to extend until 2026.
New START first went into effect in 2011. The treaty limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads at 1,550, deployed strategic delivery systems at 700, and provides for a verification regime.
Biden has said that the United States wants a “stable, predictable” relationship that allows the two countries to work together on common issues like strategic stability, arms control, and climate change.
This week, Biden accused Moscow of a “violation of our sovereignty” by trying to use “misinformation” to disrupt the 2022 U.S. Congressional elections.
He said Putin has “a real problem: He is sitting on top of an economy that has nuclear weapons and nothing else” and is “in real trouble, which makes him even more dangerous.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov fired back, says that “claiming that there is nothing else in Russia is wrong.”
“This is incorrect knowledge and a misunderstanding of modern Russia,” Putin’s spokesman added.