MOSCOW, September 21. /TASS/. Moscow does not rule out the possibility of extending the Russian-US New START treaty on the reduction of strategic nuclear weapons for a period of less than five years, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in an interview with the Kommersant daily, published on Monday.
"We would of course prefer the five-year period. But if the United States is, regretfully, not ready, an extension for a shorter period is possible," the Russian diplomat said.
He added that if the extension period is not long enough "to reach some serious agreements for the future," it will be a bad decision. "However, this is still better than nothing," the Russian deputy foreign minister said.
"But we are not going to pay the price named by the Americans even for a five-year extension, let alone for a shorter period," Ryabkov said
Commenting on US presidential candidate Joseph Biden’s declared readiness to extend the New START for five years if elected, Ryabkov said Russia would continue to seek solutions "regardless of who takes the oath on Capitol Hill."
"We are engaged in consultations and will continue this work, fully realizing the responsibility and focusing the political will at this very moment," he said. "We are not playing card games, trying to figure out what hand players would have in this or that situation."
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.
Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington not to delay prolongation of the treaty it describes as the gold standards in the area of disarmament.