U.S., Russia to Hold Second Round of Talks in Switzerland After First Attempt Yields Little

The United States and Russia will hold their second round of strategic talks in Switzerland later this week, after the first attempt yielded little results, the State Department said Monday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed to resume talks at a summit in June, and the first meeting was held on July 28 in Geneva.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that at the initial talks, the U.S. delegation discussed "the current security environment, national perceptions of threats to strategic stability, prospects for new nuclear arms control, and the format for future strategic stability dialogue sessions."

While the talks with the Russian delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov were "professional and substantive," little was produced in the way of actual results aside from an agreement to meet again, the Associated Press reported.

"We have significant differences on key issues," Ryabkov said after the talks concluded, but "there are also points of convergence, and we intend to capitalize on them."

Price said the two countries had agreed to meet again formally in September and to meet informally prior to the meeting "with the aim of determining topics for expert working groups at the second plenary."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Sergey Ryabkov
Russian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Ryabkov said the U.S. and Russia have "significant differences on key issues" but intend to capitalize on their points of convergence. Above, Ryabkov speaks during the annual meeting of the Russian Academy of Science (RAS) on April 20, 2021, in Moscow, Russia. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The department said the Biden administration's second-ranking diplomat would lead the U.S. delegation to the talks with Russia in Geneva, Switzerland, on Thursday. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will head an interagency delegation to the gathering.

The State Department said the two sides intended "to have a deliberate and robust dialogue that will seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures." It gave no additional details but said Sherman would travel from Geneva to Bern and then to Uzbekistan and wrap her trip up in nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan.

A senior State Department official who participated in those talks said the U.S. was pleased with the initial exchange and hopeful that it would be the start of a "sustained and productive dialogue" on arms control and other strategic issues.

The official told reporters the agenda was not strictly confined to traditional nuclear arms control, but also delved into the use of space and artificial intelligence as well as cyber matters, although the cyber discussion was focused on strategic issues and nuclear weapons and not ransomware or hacking.

The official said the Russians, as expected, raised concerns about American missile defenses, and the American side responded with Washington's usual argument that those systems are not aimed at Russia but rather at threats posed by Iran and North Korea.

Wendy Sherman
The U.S. and Russia will hold their second round of strategic talks later this week as the two sides attempt to resolve differences ranging from nuclear weapons to cyberspace. Above, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman speaks in Washington, D.C., on August 18, 2021. Andrew Harnik, Pool/AP Photo