GENEVA — President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to begin “working-level” discussions in a bid to strike a long-term bargain before the only major arms control on the books expires in 2026.
The U.S. commander in chief said he brought up additional nuclear arms reductions in “some detail” during the two-and-a-half-hour talk with the Russian leader on Wednesday.
“Our colleagues at the working level will set out the composition of the delegations and the place where they’ll be working and how frequently such meetings will take place,” Putin told reporters following the shorter-than-expected meeting.
Putin’s announcement included no reference to the historic arms control statement, “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” adopted by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 that set the table for a 1987 treaty. But, the prospects for a treaty in the coming years are threatened by Russia’s weapon development, raising the specter of a “nuclear blitzkrieg” against U.S. allies in Eastern Europe.
“It’s not clear we’ll ever get to an agreement,” a U.S. official told the Washington Examiner prior to the summit. “The talks might also move down a path that is less formal, and that’s where you could have voluntary agreements that capture different kinds of weapons that aren’t formal treaties, that don’t require Senate confirmation.”
A joint U.S.-Russia statement said the two Cold War rivals would “embark together on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future that will be deliberate and robust. Through this Dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.”
The new talks, first reported by the Washington Examiner, were met with skepticism by former Trump administration officials.
“The Biden administration knows that Russia, in fact, believes that a nuclear war CAN be fought & won,” tweeted Marshall Billingslea, assistant treasury secretary under former President Donald Trump. “Their escalate-to-win doctrine is premised on first use against NATO. The US President is about to affirm something alongside Putin, knowing Putin to be lying.”
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Original Author: Joel Gehrke