Senior US and Russian diplomats met in Geneva on Thursday and agreed to establish two working groups to pursue further arms control and strategic stability talks. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman led the US delegation, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov led the Russian side.
“The two delegations agreed to form two interagency expert working groups — the Working Group on Principles and Objectives for Future Arms Control, and the Working Group on Capabilities and Actions with Strategic Effects,” the State Department said in a statement.
The talks were the result of the June summit between President Biden and Vladimir Putin. Sherman and Ryabkov met once back in July and plan to meet again after the working groups hold a series of talks on their assigned issues.
Besides agreeing to establish working groups, no breakthroughs were made in the meeting, and the progress on arms control appears to be very slow. The US and Russia are down to their last nuclear arms control treaty, known as the New START, which limits the number of missiles, bombers, and nuclear warheads each power can have deployed. Early in his presidency, Biden and Putin agreed to renew New START for a five-year extension.
The Biden administration also had an opportunity to salvage Open Skies, a treaty that allowed unarmed surveillance flights over participating countries, but chose not to. After Biden and Putin agreed to extend New START, Moscow signaled it was open to the idea of reviving Open Skies. But in May, the Biden administration notified the Russians it would not rejoin the treaty.