US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Geneva yesterday during a time when US-Russian relations have reached a post-Cold War low. Biden arrived with no shortage of grievances concerning Russia, including interference in US elections, human rights abuses, the buildup of troops on the Ukrainian border, the jailing of anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, the SolarWinds cyberattack, and ransomware attacks. Putin, of course, had his own set of complaints about alleged US human rights violations and cyberattacks.
While few experts expected significant gains in those areas, some expressed modest hope that the two leaders might revive nuclear arms control discussions that have otherwise foundered in recent years. “Even the Cold War leaders never failed to talk about nuclear disarmament,” Konstantin Sonin, a Russian scholar living in the United States, wrote recently in the Bulletin.
Biden once accused Putin of not having a soul, to which Putin reportedly responded, “I see we understand each other.” Here, top nuclear experts offer a variety of viewpoints on whether the two presidents managed to understand each other enough at the Geneva summit to identify a possible path towards security and peace.
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