Oct 16, 2020 15:49 UTC
  •  Putin proposes Russia, US extend arms control treaty for year

Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed that Russia and the United States extend the New START nuclear arms control treaty without any preconditions for at least one year.

According to reports, Putin made the proposal in a video call to a meeting of the Russian Federation’s Security Council on Friday.

He stressed that the treaty between Moscow and Washington had worked effectively so far, adding that it would be “extremely sad” if it were to collapse.

“In this regard, I propose… extending the current treaty without any conditions for at least a year so that meaningful negotiations can be conducted on all the parameters of the problems,” the Russian president said.

The New START, which expires in February 2021, is the last major nuclear arms control treaty between Moscow and Washington that puts a limit on the number of strategic nuclear warheads each of the countries can have. The US and Russia signed the accord in 2010 and agreed to reduce the number of their strategic nuclear missiles by half and restrict the number of their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550.

Putin’s proposal comes as the two countries appear to be at odds over extending the pact despite several months of talks.

On Tuesday, US special envoy for arms control Marshall Billingslea conditioned the extension of the New START arms control treaty on the freezing of Russian and US nuclear weapons at the current levels.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov rejected such a conditional extension on Wednesday.

Billingslea had also implied that US President Donald Trump and President Putin had already reached an agreement “in principle” on such an extension. Ryabkov denied that claim, as well.

The New START can be extended for another five years, beyond its expiry date in February 2021, by mutual agreement.

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