Strategic Dialogue Amid Tensions… But Who Created Those Tensions?

It is the Americans who need to stop their relentless and systematic aggravation of tensions.

U.S. and Russian senior officials met this week in Geneva to discuss strategic stability. The American side said it was “committed to stability even at times of tensions” as if seeking praise for engaging. But on every score, it is Washington that has incited dangerous tensions.

The meeting in the Swiss city was a follow-up to the summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16 in the same location. That summit saw a more engaged diplomatic tone from the Americans and a willingness to pursue dialogue on a range of issues, in particular nuclear arms control.

This week, Wendy Sherman, the Deputy Secretary of State (the second most senior U.S. diplomat), met with her Russian counterpart Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. The diplomats greeted each other in a cordial manner before the talks commenced on Wednesday.

The precise agenda for the formally titled “strategic stability dialogue” was not publicly disclosed, but it is understood that a priority issue was nuclear arms control and extension of the New START treaty limiting the deployment of intercontinental nuclear weapons. When Biden took office in January this year, one of the first executive decisions he took was maintaining the 10-year-old accord. His predecessor Donald Trump was about to let that treaty lapse.

However, for long-term stability, the New START needs to be formally extended for at least another decade and beyond. That is what the American and Russian diplomats were discussing this week. Their next meeting is scheduled for the end of September.

The American ambiguity over New START follows the move by Trump to abandon the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty limiting short and medium-range missiles. Russia subsequently withdrew from the INF accord in response to the American move. Trump also jettisoned the Open Skies Treaty which had allowed each side to fly over respective territories to monitor nuclear weapon deployments. Again, Russia withdrew from the OST in response to the American move.

Further back, in 2002 under George W Bush, Washington resiled from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty, thus paving the way for American deployment of so-called missile shields in Europe. That move was highly destabilizing to the strategic balance as it raises the threat of a preemptive strike on Russia by potentially limiting Russia’s defense capability.

Thus, multiple treaties that had provided an architecture of nuclear arms control have been dismantled unilaterally by Washington. The New START treaty is the only remaining accord. And that was in jeopardy of collapsing until Biden entered the White House. His renewal of the treaty is at this stage on an ad hoc basis. There is a need for a formal agreement on the long-term extension of the treaty. It is hoped that both sides can resolve that in coming discussions.

Given this background, it is rather contemptible how the American side characterized the talks this week in Geneva.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said just before the meeting: “We remain committed, even in times of tension, to ensuring predictability and reducing the risk of armed conflict and threat of nuclear war.”

The intimation of U.S. virtuous commitment “even in times of tension” is derisory. For it is the Americans who have wantonly undermined strategic stability by unpicking treaty after treaty. The tensions between the U.S. and Russia (which mirror American tensions with China) have been multifaceted and are not just due to the realm of nuclear arms control. There is a pattern here. And it’s all one-way stemming from American imperialist ambitions for global hegemony.

U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe commented on the talks in Geneva this week, saying: “Already strained relations between Moscow and Washington have deteriorated further since Biden took office in January, with the United States sanctioning Russia over cyberattacks, election meddling, and the poisoning and jailing of opposition politician and Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny.”

Note how these baseless assertions are casually cited as if facts, as is the common practice of the U.S. media and most of its politicians. Biden, as admitted above, has exacerbated tensions by accentuating the American claims – in truth, provocative slanders – against Russia.

At Strategic Culture Foundation, we have demonstrated in numerous articles over the past several years that none of the U.S. claims hold water. Cyberattacks? Where’s the evidence? None. Election meddling? No evidence. Poisoning of Navalny? That saga a preposterous set-up.

We can add much more to the U.S. list of tendentious talking-points that are fundamentally all assertions with no factual or evidentiary basis: aggression towards Ukraine, shooting down of a Malaysian civilian airliner, annexation of Crimea, threatening Europe with the Nord Stream 2 gas project, aiding and abetting a dictator in Syria.

Let’s just deal with one of those idiotic items. The truth is the U.S. fomented a violent coup in Ukraine in 2014 that brought to power a Neo-Nazi regime that is viciously anti-Russian. The U.S. has funded the Kiev regime with $2 billion in weaponry. The U.S. and its NATO allies are currently holding war exercises in Ukraine (and Georgia) right on Russia’s borders. We don’t recall Russia ever holding military exercises in Mexico!

American claims are not information nor journalism. They are disinformation and psychological operations. To the point of being absurd.

These false narratives have been debunked by many of our articles and by other commendable publications. But the Americans and some of their European allies continue to peddle these false narratives as if they are facts, and they have imposed dozens of rounds of sanctions against Russia on that illusory basis. Then they wonder why tensions have become so fraught?

Biden this week reiterated the groundless nonsense that Russia is preparing to “interfere” in the U.S. 2022 mid-term elections. He also repeated the allegation that Russia is conducting cyberattacks on American infrastructure which, he claimed, could provoke a military response from the U.S. That is insane and recklessly unhinged.

Recall, too, that Biden has reached into the gutter to call Putin a “killer”. That was before he met with the Russian leader in Geneva last month where his seemingly genial smiles betrayed the American president’s illogicality and duplicity. How can one comfortably shake hands and smile at an alleged killer?

Biden also this week disparaged Russia as a country that only possesses “nukes and oil”. His ignorance and uncouthness are abject. Lamentably, it is typical of the American political class. And this arrogant, miserable mindset is almost despairing for the prospect of peaceful relations.

For those paying attention to reality, the Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, disclosed some home truths this week. He revealed that Russia has been appealing to the U.S. for the past six years to join in forming security mechanisms against cyberattacks and foreign interference in internal affairs. Antonov said that Washington has never responded to any of the Russian initiatives.

Indeed, the United States and Russia need to dialogue earnestly about global security and mitigate dangerous tensions to ensure that war is prevented. But more than this, first of all, the Americans need to stop their relentless and systematic aggravation of tensions.