MOSCOW, December 1. /TASS/. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg should urge the United States extend the New START Treaty, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Tuesday.
She recalled that Stoltenberg had said earlier he planned to discuss approaches to the arms control matters after the expiration of the New START Treaty in February 2021 with NATO foreign ministers. "There is no avoiding bewilderment that the NATO secretary general speaks about the New START termination as something definite although the absolute majority of the alliance’s member nations, if their leaders’ statements be trusted, support the idea of the treaty’s extension," she said. "NATO’s leaders should better call on the Americans to ultimately look at the New START extension and do constructive work to strengthen strategic stability and arms control."
She stressed that Moscow was ready to extend the treaty in its current form. "The corresponding proposal was officially handed over to the other party to the treaty, to the United States, back in last December and has been repeated more than once ever since," the Russian diplomat noted. "Last but not least, the extension of the New START Treaty will give time for comprehensive Russian-US talks on future control over nuclear missile weapons with due account of all factors impacting strategic stability. So, the ball is in Washington’s court."
Apart from that, Zakharova drew attention to Russia’s initiative to declare mutual moratorium on the deployment of intermediate-and shorter-range missiles in Europe. "These are practical measures that would help remove both Russia’s and NATO states’ concerns in this sphere," she stressed. "I believe that substantive discussion of Russia’s proposals would make it possible to boost practical effects of the NATO ministerial meeting in terms of strengthening security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region."
"Anyway, it would be better to address these matters rather than indulge in absurd speculations about Russia’s building up its military potential around NATO," Zakharova added.
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) was signed in 2010 and 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) upon 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.
In an interview with the Financial Times in late June 2019 Russian President Vladimir Putin said that once this treaty ceased to exist, "then there would be no instrument in the world to curtail the arms race."
On October 16, the Russian president came out with an initiative to extend the treaty unconditionally for at least one year. He said this time could be used to hold meaningful talks. The Russian foreign ministry said that in case the New START was extended, the Russian side was ready to freeze its nuclear arsenals, together with the US side, for that period if the US advanced no extra conditions.