On Monday, Russia said it is still hopeful nuclear arms control talks will continue with the US despite Washington rejecting Moscow’s proposal to extend the New START.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that the loss of the treaty would have “harmful” consequences. The New START is the last constraint on the nuclear arsenals of the two powers and will expire in February 2021.
Last Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to extend the treaty for one year with no preconditions. This was quickly rejected by Washington. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said Putin’s offer was a “non-starter.”
O’Brien said the US asked Russia to extend the treaty for a year in exchange for a mutual freeze on each country’s entire nuclear arsenal, including weapons not covered by the New START. Russian negotiators have previously called this US demand “unacceptable.”
The New START limits the number of missiles, bombers, and nuclear warheads each signatory can have deployed. The US is demanding a new treaty include more types of weapons.
Russia is open to further limitations for a future treaty but hopes to extend New START as it is. Moscow has repeatedly offered to renew the treaty for five years with no preconditions, as the agreement allows.
President Trump’s envoy for the arms control talks, Marshal Billingslea, has made it clear the administration is pursuing an agreement with Russia to gain a foreign policy victory ahead of the presidential election. Billingslea said the price for Moscow to renew the treaty “will go up” if a deal is not reached before November 3rd.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has said he plans to extend the New START and build new treaties on top of it. Moscow will likely wait and see who wins in November before agreeing to any additional concessions.