Two interviews and one question
In the Geneva statement, the leaders of the Russian Federation and the United States confirmed that there can be no winners in a nuclear war. Diplomats, fulfilling the will of the presidents, launched a dialogue on strategic stability.
The first round of consultations took place on 28 July. The US President noted the encouraging start of negotiations. But he immediately stated that the Russian president has serious problems and that his economy is "nuclear weapons and oil wells... it makes it even more dangerous from my point of view. "
In these conditions of dubious psychological stability of the American side, diplomatic missions of the Russian Federation and the United States published short reports on negotiations on strategic stability issues. The State Department's information emphasized the "energy," "professionalism and content" of the first round of negotiations. They recalled the practice of informal working meetings that can help prepare the next round. The State Department report also mentioned that NATO colleagues were immediately notified of the details of the negotiations, the correspondent of The Moscow Post reports.
The press release of the Russian Foreign Ministry contains neither details nor assessments. Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov, who took part in the negotiations, answered questions from the Russia Today agency. Earlier, he participated in key negotiations on arms control and nuclear non-proliferation. In particular, he led the Russian delegation in negotiations with the United States on the START Treaty, signed on April 8, 2010.
In an interview for TASS, the head of the delegation, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, shared his impressions. The Deputy Minister oversees bilateral relations with the countries of the Americas, non-proliferation and arms control, the Iranian nuclear program and the participation of the Russian Federation in the BRICS association.
The Head of Delegation is pleased
Ryabkov in an interview with TASS called the meeting "grounded and business," which took place in a "constructive atmosphere." How the parties will be able to overcome the crisis situation that has developed in the field of arms control is not clear, "the issue is very difficult, has been devoid of attention for too long," Ryabkov said.
According to him, the United States showed "readiness for constructive dialogue," their delegation "worked out 100% of its agenda." The first round, revealed the "potential for rapprochement," gave hope that "ideally" there would be "common ground."
In general, we are "very pleased," despite "significant differences in views on important issues," Ryabkov said. The deputy minister mentioned the so-called "security equation," which "was part of the discussion" and involves the consideration of all types of weapons - nuclear and conventional, capable of achieving strategic goals.
The next meeting should be held at the end of September, "rhythmicity is ensured" and the Russian side, together with the Americans, will "try to reach such a concentrated, springy, dynamic agenda" and, if possible, "publicly note that there is progress that is measurable."
Ambassador Antonov confirmed that Moscow is ready to discuss "American concerns" related to the latest strategic systems, but they "will have to listen to our claims, take into account Russian interests." Without an equal exchange of views, dialogue will not work. According to the ambassador, when discussing missile defense problems, it should be borne in mind that they are inextricably linked with strategic offensive weapons. This provision is contained in the preamble of the extended DSNV-3.
Ambassador Antonov concerned
The Russian ambassador to the United States, he is the author of the fundamental work "Arms Control: History, State, Prospects," published in 2012, began his interview with cyber-security relations. The issue is becoming one of the central ones on the bilateral agenda, "Antonov said and added:" Russia is not one of the countries from whose information space the largest number of cyber attacks is carried out. " According to American data, the list is headed by the United States!
Over the past six years, Moscow has proposed six times to agree on the prevention of incidents in cyberspace, to guarantee non-interference in internal affairs, including elections. It was suggested that the "first strike" should be waived using information technology. In September 2020, Vladimir Putin proposed developing a program of measures to restore cooperation in the field of information security. Proposals remained unanswered.
Following the June summit, the Security Councils of Russia and the United States began coordinating the work of experts, including the Russian National Coordination Center for Computer Incidents. "American colleagues, however, speak from electoral positions, preferring to focus consultations on issues of cyber extortion," said Ambassador Antonov. Deputy Minister Ryabkov agreed with him and noted that he will have to deal with "complex plots such as attempts to use the Internet and digital technologies to influence arms management systems."
The Russian proposal to develop a "new security equation" is based on taking into account the entire range of offensive and defensive weapons in nuclear and non-nuclear equipment capable of solving strategic tasks,... which constitute the potential of the first counter-force strike... can "reach" targets on the national territory of the opposite side, "the ambassador summed up.
Washington is still deaf to the proposal to "zero" on a mutual basis restrictions on the activities of foreign institutions, tightened the procedure for issuing visas, deprived Russia of a consular presence on the West Coast of America, and took over six diplomatic facilities that are Russian property. About 60 high-level Russian employees and diplomats are in line for the extension of expired visas, with family members - about 130 people.
"Hard" and "soft" matter
"Plunge into solid matter" - this is how Deputy Minister Ryabkov outlined the prospects for dialogue on strategic stability. Moscow and Washington have plunged into "solid matter" since the time when the first Soviet-American negotiations on the limitation of strategic weapons began in Helsinki in November 1969. Since then, the lines of deployment of NATO forces have changed, ABM, INF, and open skies treaties were concluded and then destroyed.
The head of the delegation of the Russian Federation also added that London "is looking more towards building up its nuclear potential, rather than freezing it and even less reducing it." In DSNV-3, the United States also does not have everything safely, given the so-called "return potential," namely, the presence of free "seats" for warheads on deployed carriers.
But as follows from the interview with Ambassador Antonov, urgent questions related to "soft" matter are also plentiful. In interviews with Russian diplomats, there were no alarming notes about the interference of the United States and the European Union in the affairs of Belarus, attempts to implement the anti-Russia project in Ukraine, intentions to influence the Russian elections, provocations with poisoning, Russophobia, which reached the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
If the dialogue on strategic stability goes without connection with the acute problems of the work of Russian politicians, diplomats, the military and cyber security specialists, the White House will be able to congratulate itself on the success in allocating the issues necessary for the current administration for negotiations. At the same time, a cynical "dusting" of everything that is vital not only for Russia, but for relations built on common sense, "predictable and rational," as President Joe Biden put it in Geneva, may continue.
Discussing Strategic Stability
As the Russian president said in an interview with TASS "20 Questions to Vladimir Putin," Moscow does not seek conflict. In the field of strike weapons, including hypersonic complexes of intercontinental range, a unique situation has developed: Russia is reliably ahead of the United States. Hypersonic weapons allow you to maintain a balance of power and ensure stability. Attempts to upset this balance with an "anti-missile umbrella" have been neutralized.
"When we talk about the need to discuss strategic stability in all its dimensions, we mean all the factors that affect it - these are nuclear, non-nuclear weapons of the strategic plan, offensive and defensive strategic systems. It must be borne in mind that the Americans are now working on a program to put strike weapons into space in the context of the deployment of a global missile defense system. Another area is cyberspace, "said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a recent lecture at the Far Eastern Federal University.
The attitude of American politicians must also be taken into account. In 2017, Russia at the legislative level was declared an "opponent of America," which was reflected in doctrinal documents. In April 2019, at a briefing on the eve of the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Sergey Ryabkov said: "We find ourselves in a situation where trust between Moscow and Washington is undermined to such an extent that even obvious things require three-fold analysis and reflection, not to mention such complex things as the future regime in the field of nuclear arms control."
Midterm congressional elections, and the presidential campaign is not far off. It is important for the American president to gain the image of an almighty master of diplomacy. It is no coincidence that his negotiators during the first round of consultations on strategic stability tried to regain Moscow's confidence.
Can Washington bureaucrats be expected to make concessions in areas where the United States retains the ability to pressure Russia? Is it realistic to count on the "political will and willingness to compromise" of Joe Biden himself?
This will depend on the internal balance of power in the United States. It is difficult to count on "consent" in the American political elite, which broke up into two irreconcilable camps. And the question boils down to the position of that conditional arrow on a conditional "scale of confidence" in a country that loses stability and becomes dangerous not in words, but in reality.