ANALYSIS - US Media, Politics Could Undermine Putin-Biden Momentum On Arms Control

ANALYSIS - US Media, Politics Could Undermine Putin-Biden Momentum on Arms Control

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 17th June, 2021) The Geneva summit agreement reached by President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin potentially lays the groundwork for preventing a new nuclear arms race, but American media and politics may derail the process, analysts told Sputnik.

Earlier on Wednesday, Putin and Biden held talks in Geneva, the first since the latter took office, where they discussed a range of issues, including cybersecurity, strategic stability, the Arctic, human rights and foreign media treatment, among others.

The two leaders also signed a joint statement on Wednesday vowing to launch bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue to lay the foundation for arms control talks and avoiding a nuclear war.

"It is much welcome and a positive response to recommendations from many experts and activists," Geneva Center for Security Policy Arms Proliferation Head Marc Finaud told Sputnik. "It is [a] sign that both leaders understand the current arms race can only lead to an increased risk of nuclear catastrophe."

Teams from both sides should be designated rapidly and then quickly meet to discuss all those points to start negotiating a new agreement or a series of agreements, Finaud, a former French diplomat, advised.

"As both presidents said, all the details about the Calendar, the venue, and above all the agenda will need to be worked out by diplomats. The latter will probably be the most difficult: Russia wants to include missile defense and strategic conventional weapons while the US wants to include non-strategic and new 'exotic' weapons developed by Russia," Finaud said.

Middlebury Institute of International Studies Senior Research Associate Joshua Pollack said while the tone of the statement and the overall summit was positive, the long road to try and reach new substantive agreements to cap or reduce nuclear arsenals had only just begun.

"This statement is appropriately modest and cautious in tone. It promises only to create a process of dialogue that will 'lay the groundwork' for a renewal of arms control. It's just an initial step," Pollack said. "What comes next depends on too many variables to offer any guesses, but if Washington and Moscow can reach some sort of accommodation on nuclear weapons, missile defenses, and related issues, then perhaps we might see changes to defense acquisition plans on both sides.

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Washington and Moscow could also agree to more risk reduction measures such as new notifications and data exchanges, Pollack added.

Meanwhile, US lawmakers bashed Biden in several statements for failing to be tough on Putin with some even calling for more Navalny-related sanctions.

President of American University in Moscow Edward Lozansky told Sputnik that following the civil and constructive tone of the summit, Biden will now face major criticism back home but the media will not be as harsh as with his predecessor Donald Trump.

"The most important thing is to follow up with concrete steps and not to allow the anti-Russia lobby to disrupt the road to peace before it even started," Lozansky said.

Historian and political commentator Dan Lazare does not have high hopes for any sort of rapprochement.

"Anti-Russian hostility is running sky-high, and it is likely to go even higher thanks to US intransigence and Washington's astonishingly one-sided view of the world," Lazare told Sputnik. "A dogmatic mindset that says we're right because it's in our DNA is a vast obstacle to international peace. There's no way to argue with such a country because you'll be wrong the instant you open your mouth."

Lazare also observed that while Putin had accepted questions from US reporters at his press conference, Biden had refused to answer any posed by Russian journalists at his.

"That in itself speaks volumes about the difference between the two countries," Lazare said.

Pollack also warned that, given the high levels of anti-Russian sentiment in Washington, especially among Republicans in Congress, Biden was unlikely to win approval for any new arms control agreement that he might reach with Putin.

"I am less optimistic about formal arms control arrangements that would require anything more than an executive agreement. Very simply, there is little if any support from Congressional Republicans for anything that President Biden might do," he said.