MOSCOW — The Kremlin said on Tuesday it was ready for talks with the United States on nuclear arms control even as Moscow and Washington remained locked in a tense standoff over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Commenting on US President Joe Biden’s statement that Washington is open to talks on a new arms control agreement to replace the New START treaty after it expires in 2026, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that such negotiations were long overdue.
Just days before New START expires in February 2021, Russia and the United States agreed to extend it for another five years.
The treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages extensive on-site inspections to verify compliance.
Moscow and Washington had not started discussions on a possible replacement for the pact until the Kremlin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24.
While saying he is ready to “promptly negotiate a new arms control framework to replace New START when it expires in 2026,” Biden stressed in Monday’s statement that “Russia’s brutal and unprovoked aggression in Ukraine has broken the peace in Europe and constitutes an attack on the fundamental principles of international order”.
“In this context, Russia must demonstrate that it is ready to resume work on nuclear arms control with the United States,” he added.
Asked about Biden’s statement during a conference call with reporters, Peskov pointed out that “Moscow has repeatedly spoken about the need to start such discussions as soon as possible because there is little time left.”
“If the treaty expires without being replaced by a solid agreement, it will have a negative impact on global security and stability, primarily in the area of arms control,” Peskov noted. “We have called for an early start to the talks, but so far it is the United States that has shown no interest in substantive contacts on the matter.”
He stressed that negotiations on a new arms control pact can only be held “on the basis of mutual respect and taking into account mutual concerns”.