U.S. Proposes Arms Control Dialogue With Russia

May 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden proposed during an April 13 call with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the two leaders hold a wide-ranging summit in the coming months. It could pave the way to a strategic stability dialogue on arms control and security issues.

The summit would take place in a third country—Austria and Switzerland have since offered to host—and feature discussions on “the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia,” the White House said in a statement after the call. A Kremlin official has said the summit may occur in June.

“Out of that summit—were it to occur, and I believe it will—the United States and Russia could launch a strategic stability dialogue to pursue cooperation in arms control and security,” added Biden on April 15. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented on April 16 that Moscow has “responded positively” to the proposal. “Now we are studying different aspects of this initiative,” he said. Since those statements, however, tensions between the United States and Russia have continued to rise over Russia’s military buildup on the Ukrainian border, its treatment of political dissident Alexi Navalny, and the imposition of U.S. sanctions on Russia, creating new doubts about when a summit could reasonably be expected.

During their call, Biden and Putin discussed “the intent of the United States and Russia to pursue a strategic stability dialogue on a range of arms control and emerging security issues, building on the extension” of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), according to the White House. Washington and Moscow agreed in February to extend the 2010 treaty for five years, and both expressed a willingness to pursue further engagement on arms control. (See ACT, March 2021.)

The United States and Russia first met for a strategic stability dialogue in Helsinki in September 2017 and last held the dialogue in Vienna in August 2020. (See ACT, October 2017; September 2020.)—SHANNON BUGOS