Russian-US consultations on strategic stability have kicked off in Geneva

Russia’s permanent mission to the United Nations Geneva Office is hosting the meeting. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov is heading the Russian delegation, while the US delegation is led by Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. The delegation also includes the State Department’s Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson.

Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Donald Trump of the United States handed down instructions to resume full-fledged dialogue on the matter following their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan’s Osaka in late June.

Ahead of the meeting, Moscow pointed out that it views extention of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) as the most important issue on the agenda. Washington, however, assumed it was too early to discuss the matter, while there was a need to consider the possibility of reaching a trilateral agreement on nuclear arms reduction between the United States, Russia and China.

INF: from inception to suspension
The INF Treaty, signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987, took effect on June 1, 1988. It applies to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). Washington repeatedly accused Russia of violating the accord, but Moscow vehemently dismissed all accusations and, in its turn, expressed grievances over Washington’s non-compliance.

On February 1, 2019, US President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the suspension of Washington’s obligations under the INF starting February 2. Washington is determined to withdraw from the treaty in six months unless Russia returns to “real and verifiable” compliance.

On February 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow was also suspending the agreement. He handed down instructions to refrain from initiating talks with Washington on the issue and stressed that the US needed to show willingness for an equal and substantive dialogue. Putin signed a decree suspending Moscow’s compliance with the Treaty on March 4. On July 3, the head of state signed the decree into law after it had been approved by both houses of parliament.

New START
New START, which came into force in 2011, limits Russia and the US to no more than 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, no more than 1,550 deployed warheads and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers.

The Treaty is set to remain in effect for ten years (until 2021) unless a new document is signed to replace it. The document can also be extended for no more than five years (that is, until 2026) by mutual agreement of the parties.