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US, Russian defense chiefs talk by phone about ‘strategic stability’

Sergei Shoigu and Vladimir Putin (Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, have spoken by telephone about ongoing “strategic stability” talks launched last month after a recent presidential summit.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on August 11 Austin and Shoigu discussed “transparency and risk-reduction efforts following the July 28 resumption of the U.S.-Russia Strategic Stability Dialogue.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said the two talked about “the results of bilateral consultations on strategic stability, as well as issues of global and regional security.”

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed at a summit at Lake Geneva in June to launch a bilateral dialogue on strategic stability to “lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures” and officials from both sides met on July 28 in Geneva.

The rivals have been looking at specific issues such as how to move beyond the New START treaty that Biden and Putin have agreed to extend until 2026.

The United States and Russia possess around 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.

Moscow has said it wants Britain and France to become part of wider nuclear arms-control talks with the United States, while Washington continues to seek China’s inclusion in the negotiations.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman led the U.S. delegation and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov led the Russian side for the one-day kickoff of the strategic security talks in Geneva on July 28.

The precise agenda of the talks has not been made public.

Both sides have said a further plenary round of high-level talks will take place in late September.