Joe Biden’s deputy secretary of state, Wendy Sherman, said Monday that she has hopes to reach an agreement with the Russian diplomat she is engaged with in strategic-stability talks. She says that her previous success in working on the Iran nuclear deal and an agreement to seize Syrian chemical weapons during the Obama Administration led her to believe that she could reach a Russian accord.
Sherman had just concluded a negotiating session with Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Rybakov in Geneva when she spoke to the media on Monday. The talks with the Russian diplomat focused on discussing “strategic stability” reached by Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in June of last year. The parties also discussed the Russian military buildup on its border with Ukraine.
Sherman described the Monday talks as “straightforward, businesslike, and candid.” The session marks the beginning of a negotiation process expected to move forward at the NATO-Russia Council and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The specific topic covered this week was American proposals for placement of intermediate-range missiles and demands by Russia for the U.S. to prohibit Ukraine from becoming a full member of NATO.
Sherman began her career as a social worker, helping women who were victims of abuse. She has said that her experience in that field gave her the skills she now uses in international diplomatic relations.
Sherman told reporters that she left the more than a seven-hour session with hope, which she said is essential for her work. She also said that her previous experience with Rybakov was necessary to continue negotiations.
She said they know one another very well from previous work on the Syrian chemical weapons negotiations and a strategic stability dialogue. She said she and the Russian have the confidence to be “very straight-up” with each other, knowing that they will both be loyal to their national interests.