After meeting in Geneva on June 16, 2021, President Biden and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin released a Joint Statement on Strategic Stability, which outlined their agreement on a path forward for nuclear arms control and risk reduction. In February, the two Presidents had agreed to extend the New STARR Treaty for five years beyond its planned expiration on February 5, 2021. This treaty limits deployed long-range strategic nuclear weapons but does not address al U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons or other factors that could affect the risk of nuclear use. In their joint statement, the Presidents agreed to hold further discussions on these issues; the first round of strategic stability talks are scheduled to begin on July 28, 2021.
When announcing the planned meeting with President Putin, the White House indicated that Presidents would “discuss the full range of pressing issues” and would “seek to restore predictability and stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship.” President Biden emphasized that, although areas of disagreement exist, it is in the two nations’ interest to cooperate when possible and that strategic stability is one area of possible cooperation. Capturing this sentiment, the joint statement begins by recognizing that “the United States and Russia have demonstrated that, even in periods of tension, they are able to make progress on our shared goals of ensuring predictability in the strategic sphere, reducing the risk of armed conflicts and the threat of nuclear war.”
Statements on Nuclear War
In their joint statements, President Biden and Putin reaffirmed the principle that a nuclear war can not be won and must never be fought. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev had issued this
statement in 1985, when they indicated that they were “conscious of the special responsibility of the USSR and the U.S. for maintaining peace.” By issuing this statement, Reagan and Gorbachev recognized the need to ease tensions that might lead to a conflict that could escalate to nuclear war. In recent years, some experts have suggested that a U.S.-Russian reaffirmation of this statement might help bolster international nonproliferation efforts by reducing the perceived value of nuclear weapons.