It’s been said that relations between the U.S. and Russia have deteriorated to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War. This is not something that can be reversed quickly. That’s why the face-to-face meeting between their leaders is so significant.
Since these two countries are vital to international stability, we hope that this will be taken as an opportunity for continued dialogue moving forward. We would like to see them persevere in their discussions and build a relationship of trust.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin recently had a summit meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. This was the first in-person meeting between them since the beginning of the Biden administration. The summit highlighted the difficulty of compromise between the U.S. and Russia due to their different values, and it gave a strong impression that improving their relations will not be straightforward.
Keeping democracy and human rights at the forefront, Biden raised the issue of Putin’s suppression of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, as well as other issues such as cyberattacks. However, Putin argued against these points and they were unable to come to an agreement.
One positive result from the summit was the agreement to enter a “Strategic Stability Dialogue” for nuclear arms reduction and risk mitigation measures, in anticipation of the expiration of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in five years.
The U.S. and Russia possess 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. Tensions and antagonism between these two countries are a threat to international stability. If this dialogue is continued, it will help to dispel the concerns of the international community.
New START is the single remaining treaty for nuclear disarmament between the U.S. and Russia.
Under the Trump administration, the U.S. withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, ending regulation on intermediate-range missiles. There were also difficulties in negotiating the extension of New START during the Trump administration. With its expiration looming in February of this year, Biden and Putin agreed to a five-year extension during a phone meeting just after Biden’s inauguration in January.
However, this treaty was limited to strategic nuclear warheads and their means of delivery. As part of the Strategic Stability Dialogue, the two countries will negotiate a future vision of New START and expand discussions to weapons not covered by the treaty.
In a joint declaration from the summit, Biden and Putin pledged to abide by the principle that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
This is the principle that former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev declared in a 1985 summit, also in Geneva.
We hope that this will not just be a catchphrase, but rather a principle that is followed to create a new framework for comprehensive nuclear disarmament.
In order to make such a framework more effective, it is imperative to bring in China, which is actively expanding its own armaments.
When mutual distrust was growing between the two countries due to Russian interference with the U.S. presidential election, neither country appeared to have a sense of responsibility in line with their positions as powerful nations. We wonder if they will take responsibility for the agreement from the summit and use it to improve their relations. We must keep a close watch on the attitudes of both countries.