On Tuesday, Russia announced that the US and Russia struck a deal to extend New START, the last nuclear arms control treaty between the two powers. The announcement was made after President Biden spoke on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The presidents expressed satisfaction following today’s exchange of diplomatic notes on an agreement to extend the New START Treaty,” the Kremlin said in a statement, according to Russia’s Tass News Agency.
Details of the extension have not been made public, but President Biden’s press secretary said the administration was seeking a five-year extension with no preconditions, as New START allows. The treaty was set to expire on February 5th.
Moscow had repeatedly offered the five-year extension to the Trump administration during negotiations at the end of 2020. Trump’s arms control envoy made additional demands if the Russians and failed to reach an agreement.
The White House has yet to confirm the extension but mentioned the treaty in a readout of Biden and Putin’s call. “They discussed both countries’ willingness to extend New START for five years, agreeing to have their teams work urgently to complete the extension by February 5th,” the White House said.
New START limits the number of missiles, bombers, and nuclear warheads each power can have deployed. Without it, there would be no constraints on the nuclear arsenals of the US and Russia.
While the Biden administration worked quickly to preserve New START, they are making it known that Washington will continue a hostile stance towards Moscow. During the phone call, Biden addressed several issues with Putin. Some of the allegations Biden made are entirely unsubstantiated, like the claim that Moscow paid bounties to the Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan.