The Kremlin is welcoming news that President Biden will seek an extension for the New START nuclear treaty but is awaiting details about the proposal.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced on Thursday that the United States intends to seek a five-year extension of New START, which is the last remaining bilateral treaty with Russia that limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads and deployed strategic delivery systems.
“We can only welcome political will to extend the document,” said Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov during a Friday conference call. “But all will depend on the details of the proposal.”
Prior to Biden’s inauguration, the Trump administration had tried fruitlessly to extend the deal by adding increased demands, including initially trying to get China to be party to the treaty.
After Beijing rejected the overture, Trump pushed for a one-year extension with increased limitations on tactical nuclear weapons. Russia had supported a five-year extension with no changes to the pact, which was inked by former President Barack Obama and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and ratified by the Senate in 2010.
“The president has long been clear that the New START treaty is in the national security interests of the United States,” Psaki told reporters during a Thursday briefing. “This extension makes even more sense when the relationship with Russia is adversarial as it is at this time. New START is the only remaining treaty constraining Russian nuclear forces, and it is an anchor of strategic stability between our two countries.”
Biden will reportedly break the mold of past presidents who attempt to reset relations between Washington and Moscow. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines is putting together an intelligence assessment about possible Russian interference in the 2020 election, alleged bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the poisoning of Russian dissident leader Alexei Navalny, and the sprawling SolarWinds hack, which breached the U.S. government late in 2020 and is believed to be tied to Russia.
While welcoming the proposed extension, Russia is also awaiting details about the plan after the failed negotiations during Trump’s last few months in office.
“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 U.S. is offering,” Peskov added during the Friday call.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised the developments between the two countries and said the U.S. and Russia should “work quickly to complete the necessary procedure for the New START’s extension before the Feb. 5 expiration and move as soon as possible to negotiations on new arms control measures,” according to U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, previously said the New START treaty allows Washington “tremendous access to data and inspections” and is “certainly in the national interest to extend.”