Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov took part in the annual meeting of the International Advisory Council of James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies - CNS of Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey
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25 october

Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov took part in the annual meeting of the International Advisory Council of James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies - CNS of Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Dear friends,

Thank you for this opportunity to deliver my remarks and share some thoughts on the state of Russia-US relations in the field of arms control.

The two great nuclear powers – Russia and the United States – should treat their bilateral relations carefully. Global strategic stability depends largely on our countries. For a reason, the backlog of problems and irritants accumulated in Russia-US affairs over the recent years is a matter of concern not only for Moscow and Washington, but also for capitals of other states.

The June summit in Geneva helped the leaders of our countries to get an insight into the existing problems and determine the major pathways for the two states to move along. The meeting between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden gave a rise to certain modest, but still positive shoots of optimism. Today it is important to reverse the previous negative trend and take concrete tangible steps to move out of the dangerous impasse in bilateral relations.

The key achievement of the presidential meeting was the adoption of a statement on strategic stability and the agreement to launch a professional meaningful dialogue. On September 30, Geneva hosted the second round of consultations between the interagency delegations led by deputy foreign ministers. The conversation is developing in the right direction and of a professional and substantive nature. An important result already achieved thus far is the definition of the goal of the strategic dialogue. The two Sides have agreed that it should focus on identifying the parameters of an arms control regime to be built upon the New START Treaty.

The delegations have managed to settle organizational matters. Two working groups have been established to discuss common approaches to prospective arms control instruments, frameworks and goals for the future regime.

The Sides have also agreed to deal with specific types and classes of weapons, technologies and activities that have an impact on strategic stability.

I would like to note that in this context the Sides intend to discuss not only specific types and classes of nuclear and non-nuclear weapons capable of performing strategic missions, but also the actions of the Sides that have a "strategic effect".

It is our understanding that such an approach provides an opportunity for the two delegations to reach a set of agreements and understandings that may have different statuses and include measures in both arms control and risk reduction.

In our view, there should be no preconditions for discussing particular topics in any of the working groups or at plenary meetings in general. The Russian Side is ready to discuss any national security or strategic stability issues. We hope that the American colleagues will not ignore our priorities and concerns.

It is important that the consultations are integrated. This principle, by the way, is embodied in the joint presidential statement of June 16. It binds the Sides to consider all the significant factors of strategic stability – both traditional and new – as well as their nexus.

We are consistent in our approaches to strategic stability, you will not be surprised by our plans to raise the issues of the nexus between strategic offensive and strategic defensive arms. We would like to reach a more clear understanding between our delegations and countries on this matter. For us it is a critical problem for a next agreement to replace the New START Treaty.

Discussion of the INF issues will be challenging. We are not satisfied with the current state of affairs in this area, and we want to figure out what we need to do together to avoid an arms race in such weapons and prevent their deployment in any part of the globe. In this regard, I would like to remind you about the declared Russian commitment to refrain from the deployment of ground-based intermediate- and shorter-range missiles anywhere in the world until the United States takes respective anti-Russian steps.

I believe it would be important to talk about hypersonic and other high-precision non-nuclear weapons, including unmanned systems, with an emphasis on those that can be used for strategic missions.

In addition, we would like to consider quantitative and qualitative aspects of the balance of power between the two countries and their allies in terms of both nuclear and conventional weapons, including the specific of their deployment that affects the strategic equilibrium. As well as situations carrying the risk of armed conflicts between our countries and possible ways to prevent them.

The Russian approach is absolutely pragmatic. We propose to focus on the weapons that are the most dangerous in terms of undermining the balance of power – namely, on delivery systems capable of hitting targets on the national territory of the other Side in a first strike and on deployed warheads.

However, it is well-known that our countries still have significant differences on key issues of the strategic agenda.

For example, the US Side insists on expanding the current arms control regime based on New START. It seeks to cover all types of nuclear weapons. Here our American colleagues mean any deployed and non-deployed nuclear warheads on delivery vehicles of both intercontinental and other ranges. At the same time, Washington makes no secret of the fact that its priority in terms of limitation is our non-strategic nuclear weapons and newest strategic delivery systems.

Russia holds a consistent position in this regard. A prerequisite for discussing non-strategic nuclear weapons is the withdrawal of US warheads of this class from Europe to the national territory, the elimination of the infrastructure for their storage and maintenance and the termination of the NATO practice of nuclear sharing missions.

As for our newest strategic weapons, some of them have already been accounted or will be accounted for under New START. At the same time, we do not shy away from discussing the role and place of other strategic systems in future arms control regimes.

We understand that over the years of absence of the strategic stability dialogue our countries have accumulated a backlog of questions. However, it is important to focus on the main issues and not to politicize the professional conversation on strategic stability that is gaining momentum. Of course, if the US Side presents its arguments in favor of expanding the dialogue on strategic stability, we will be open to them and will seek to figure out and determine where, when and in what format such ideas can be discussed.

I would like to stress the importance of the use of the New START negotiation experience. Eleven years ago, our relations were also complicated, but we managed to single out the key issues and focus on them, find a common denominator and ultimately work out a treaty that is called the "golden standard" in the field of arms control even by our critics.

Like in all past decades, we are determined to reach legally binding agreements, though we do not exclude other formats. It would be unreasonable to predetermine possible results now; we need to sit down and do the work.

In other words, a situation where our countries will remain without control mechanisms in the strategic sphere after New START expires cannot be allowed. Achieving tangible results will send a strong message to the international community about the commitment of Russia and the United States to maintain international peace and security. In addition, a potential outcome will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the stability of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.