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Russia’s priority is to involve UK, France in future nuclear arms control talks — diplomat

The two states are the US closest NATO allies that possess nuclear weapons, the senior diplomat explained

MOSCOW, June 26. /TASS/. Russia thinks it necessary that the United Kingdom and France join the strategic nuclear arms control process as the United States’ closest NATO allies, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in an interview with TASS First Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman on Friday.

"As an essential element of our position on the future of nuclear arms control we insist that the United States’ closest NATO allies possessing nuclear weapons should join these hypothetical talks. They are France and the United Kingdom," he said. "We make no secret that this is our priority. As far as the United States is focusing on the necessity to go beyond the frame of the traditional Russian-US dialogue in this sphere [insisting that China join it — TASS] and make it multilateral, our priority is to have the above mentioned states join this process."

The senior Russian diplomat recalled that Russia had long been saying that "after the signing of the current Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms and its implementation by Moscow and Washington, it will be necessary to think about a multilateral nature of the nuclear arms control process."

"The upper limits set by the Treaty for each of the sides is 1,550 warheads," he explained. "Further hypothetical reductions in this sphere are possible only if the corresponding arsenals of other countries are duly taken into account in this process. There are no gaps between any of the elements of our position. On the contrary, it is a coherent and very logical, long-standing position."

According to the Russian senior diplomat, the lineup of the future multilateral process is a "separate big topic to be discussed." "Our logic and methodology are applicable to this sphere too," he went on to say. "We respect positions of the corresponding countries on what they will do in this context. We understand that these are very serious matters that cannot be resolved immediately."

"This is another reason why it would be right to extend the existing New START Treaty after February 5, 2021 to win time to continue the discussion about who will be involved in the future talks, what these talks will focus on, how to organize them and more," Ryabkov said. "It takes time. It cannot be resolved overnight, or even in a month. It takes much more efforts, both intellectual and political, and sophisticated solutions. So, let us discuss what is to be done and how it is to be done while the existing treaty stays in place."