It is now official that Russia and the United States will meet in Vienna to discuss strategic stability this month. June 22nd is the date set for this meeting. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall S. Billingslea will head the meeting.
Ryabkov confirmed the meeting in a statement he gave to Interfax agency. "I confirm that a meeting on the subject of arms control and strategic stability in the format of interdepartmental delegations from both sides will take place in Vienna on June 22," Ryabkov said.
Billingslea said in a Tweet he shared yesterday that China was invited as well.
Most experts on social media expressed there skepticism about the presence of China in such a meeting. Some even went to consider the invitation as pointless, since Beijing's stand from joining arms control negotiations is clear by now.
On this matter, Ryabkov commented that Russia "is puzzled that the American side has been persistently mentioning this." He added that that they had "no understanding that the Chinese side will be represented at this meeting."
Nonetheless, another issue occupies the centre of attention at the momen, namely the extension of New START Treaty. At the moment, the big question is: Will the United States agree to extend New START and bring serious proposals on a follow-on deal with Russia?
Ten years ago, the United States and Russia signed the New START treaty which expires on 5 February 2021. Now it is the last treaty capping the nuclear forces of the former Cold War foes, after the US pulled out of INF Treaty. New START has an option to renew for a further five years with the agreement of both parties.
As Russia has repeatedly expressed its readiness to extend the treaty as early as possible before its expiration date, the main question that remains to be answered now is: Will the UNITED STATES negotiate in good faith?
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