Moscow is ready to extend the last major nuclear arms control treaty, without conditions or discussions, President Vladimir Putin said as he reiterated Russia’s position on the New START treaty which expires in 2021.
“Russia is ready to immediately, as soon as possible, before the end of the year, extend the New START treaty without any preconditions, so that there would be no double, triple interpretation of our position later. I’m saying this officially,” the Russian president pointed out.
The New START treaty, which obliges Moscow and Washington to reduce the number of its strategic nuclear missile launchers by half, was signed in April 2010. The agreement expires in February 2021, but there’s an option for it to be extended until 2026.
Russia has already filed all the paperwork needed to begin talks on extending the treaty, but the US has not reacted to the proposal. Moscow is concerned that the Trump administration is willing to ditch New START, just like it did with the INF deal.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty banned Russia and the US from the fielding ground-based missiles with a range of between 500km (310 miles) and 5,500km (3418 miles) in Europe, and was the cornerstone of security on that continent since 1987. The US’ unilateral withdrawal from the deal left Russia with no choice but to abandon it as well, raising fears of a new arms race between the two countries.