22 January 2021

Russia welcomes Biden’s proposal to extend nuclear arms treaty

22 January 2021

The Kremlin has welcomed US President Joe Biden’s proposal to extend the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the two countries, which is set to expire in less than two weeks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia supports extending the pact and is waiting to see details of the US proposal.

The White House said on Thursday that Mr Biden has proposed to Russia a five-year extension of the New Start treaty.

“We can only welcome political will to extend the document,” Mr Peskov said in a conference call with reporters. “But all will depend on the details of the proposal.”

The treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads. It expires on February 5.

Biden (AP)

Russia has proposed prolonging the pact without any conditions or changes, but President Donald Trump’s administration waited until last year to start talks and made the extension contingent on a set of demands. The talks stalled and months of bargaining have failed to narrow differences.

“Certain conditions for the extension have been put forward, and some of them have been absolutely unacceptable for us, so let’s see first what the US is offering,” Mr Peskov said.

Mr Biden indicated during the campaign that he favoured the preservation of the New Start treaty, which was negotiated during his tenure as US vice president.

The talks on the treaty’s extension were clouded by tensions between Russia and the United States, which have been fuelled by the Ukrainian crisis, Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and other irritants.

Despite the extension proposal, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Mr Biden remains committed to holding Russia “to account for its reckless and adversarial actions”, such as its alleged involvement in the Solar Winds hacking event, 2020 election interference, the chemical poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and the widely reported allegations that Russia may have offered bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Asked to comment on Ms Psaki’s statement, Mr Peskov reaffirmed Russia’s denial of involvement in any such activities.

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