President Biden on Monday sent mixed signals to Moscow in an apparent offer to negotiate a replacement to the New START, the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Russia.
In a statement to the 10th conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Biden said his administration “is ready to expeditiously negotiate a new arms control framework to replace New START when it expires in 2026,” but then suggested he wouldn’t negotiate with Russia while it was fighting in Ukraine.
“But negotiation requires a willing partner operating in good faith. And Russia’s brutal and unprovoked aggression in Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe and constitutes an attack on fundamental tenets of international order. In this context, Russia should demonstrate that it is ready to resume work on nuclear arms control with the United States,” Biden said.
Responding to Biden’s statement, a Russian Foreign Ministry source expressed puzzlement to Reuters. “Is this a serious statement or has the White House website been hacked?” the source said. “If this is still a serious intention, with whom exactly do they intend to discuss it?”
The US cut off arms control talks with Russia after Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24th. Russian officials have said they’re interested in resuming the dialogue, but besides Biden’s statement, the US hasn’t shown much interest. A US official told The New York Times back in June that “it’s almost impossible to imagine” the US and Russia negotiating a New START replacement before it expires in 2026.