Wednesday’s discussions in Geneva come as the two countries are embroiled in myriad disputes ranging from weapons systems to cyberattacks, Ukraine and allegations of Russian interference in U.S. elections.
“This meeting follows up on a commitment made between President Biden and Russian President Putin to have a deliberate and robust dialogue between our two nations that will seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures,” the State Department said.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who is currently traveling in Asia and will meet China’s foreign minister on Sunday, will lead the U.S. delegation, accompanied by the newly confirmed top U.S. arms control diplomat, Bonnie Jenkins. Russia’s team will be headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The two sides expect to explore how to move beyond the New START treaty that Biden and Putin agreed earlier this year to extend until 2026. That treaty had been due to expire in February and former President Donald Trump’s administration had not moved to extend it.
The Trump administration had withdrawn from several arms control and related agreements with the Russians during its time in office, causing angst among U.S. allies in Europe and elsewhere. The previous administration said the pacts were outdated and Russia was in persistent violation of them.
The Biden administration wants further arms negotiations to include Russia’s numerically superior arsenal of non-strategic nuclear missiles, which are not covered by New START and are a particular concern to European allies.
The Russians have said they will insist that any new agreement include negotiated limits on U.S. missile defenses, which they see as a longer-term threat to the viability of their strategic arsenal.