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Too late to deal with New START extension after US presidential election - diplomat

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov noted that "anti-Russian bipartisan consensus in the US doesn’t promise much good for the relationship for the future, irrespective of who wins the next election"

MOSCOW, May 30. /TASS/. It would be very late to deal with the extension of the Russian-US Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, known as the New START Treaty, after the day of US presidential election, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in an interview with the National Interest published on Saturday.

"I have no idea how things will unfold in relation to the forthcoming election in the US. No predictions, no expectations. I do think, though, that it would be very late in the process for any administration—including the second Trump administration if he is reelected—to deal with the issue of a new START extension after the day of elections in America," Ryabkov said.

"I think more broadly that the current, almost one-hundred percent watertight anti-Russian bipartisan consensus in the US doesn’t promise much good for this relationship for the future, irrespective of who wins the next election," the high-ranking diplomat added.

"My view on this is that chances for the new START Treaty to be sustained are rapidly moving close to zero, and I think that on February 5, 2021, this treaty will just lapse, and it will end. We will have no START as of February 6, 2021," Ryabkov said.

The approach of Obama and Trump administrations

Ryabkov also said that he could draw no distinction, concerning the policy toward Russia, between the administrations of incumbent President Donald Trump and his predecessor Barack Obama.

"No, I see no lines anywhere. I see no distinction, as you have described. Moreover, I see no distinction between the previous administration and this one," the high-ranking diplomat said when asked if he could draw a distinction between President Trump and his administration or he saw them as aligned in their approach toward Russia.

According to Ryabkov, he does not know who drives US policy toward Russia - either Trump or his advisers.

"We welcome any signal from the Americans, including from the President himself in favor of improvement, in favor of going along, and we are prepared to bear our share in this," he emphasized.

China-related topics

Ryabkov noted that the Trump administration is obsessed with the China issue and tries to bring it up while discussing every single international issue.

Ryabkov has pointed out that not only is the US rhetoric on China joining the US-Russia Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (known as the New START Treaty) driven by security considerations, but it is "much broader, deeper, and it’s by far more multifaceted than anything that relates to arms control as such."

"On China, I think the US administration is obsessed with the issue, and it tries to introduce ‘Chinese discourse’ into every single international issue at the table," the high-ranking diplomat said.

He added that the United States uses every single area to pressure China "in a most energetic and most forceful manner."

"I think it clearly entails a further growth of uncertainty in international relations. I still hope though that at some point, the natural instinct to talk and agree and conclude deals will prevail rather than this ongoing effort to squeeze something out of others—not only China, but Russia and others who tend to follow their independent policy from America," Ryabkov explained.

When asked whether the US stance toward Russia helps to promote a Russia-China rapprochement, Ryabkov pointed out that the external impact on Russia does not affect the relationships with other countries.

"Our own calculations and conclusions are less related to what America is doing than to many, many other things. And we cherish our close and friendly relations with China. We do regard this as a comprehensive strategic partnership in different areas, and we intend to develop it further," the Russian deputy foreign minister stressed.

New START Treaty

The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) entered into force on February 5, 2011. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry into effect each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, as well as no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers.

The New START Treaty will remain in force for 10 years, until 2021, unless it is replaced before that date by a subsequent agreement on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms. It can also be extended for no longer than 5 years (that is, until 2026) by the parties’ mutual consent.