US, Russia kick off new arms control talks

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

The US and Russia have launched a new round of arms control talks as the deputy foreign ministers of the two nuclear powers met in Geneva.

Russia's Sergei Ryabkov and his US counterpart, Wendy Sherman, discussed future arms control and risk reduction as well as the fortification of "strategic stability" during their one-day meeting, both delegations said.

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed to such talks during their summit in the Swiss city in June.

The US had previously walked away from several agreements because Russia was said to have failed to abide by the rules.

Officials in Moscow denied this and repeatedly warned that an exit from the agreements could lead to a new arms race.

In early June, Putin sealed his country's withdrawal from the treaty on international military observation flights.

This left only one important arms control agreement between the United States and Russia: the New START nuclear disarmament treaty.

Shortly before its expiration in February, Biden and Putin agreed on an extension.

The New START treaty limits the nuclear arsenals of both countries to 800 delivery systems and 1550 operational nuclear warheads each.

Russia welcomed the start of the talks.

It was a positive sign that experts of both countries had come together in Geneva, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by news agency Interfax.

"We hope that in the course of the talks we will at least succeed in presenting the respective position more extensively," he said.

However, he also stressed that the Putin-Biden summit should be no reason for "illusions" as the talks, while useful and constructive, had shown "strong differences in opinion".

US Secretary of State spokesman Ned Price said the meeting was the beginning of the dialogue agreed with Russia.

"The US delegation discussed US 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," he said, affirming that the talks had been "professional and substantive".

Both sides had agreed to meet again at the end of September, according to Price, adding that US representatives would also brief the NATO partners on the talks in Brussels on Thursday.

Australian Associated Press