US-RUSSIA START deal

Russia-USA ink extension of arms control treaty

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Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Friday ratifying the extension of  New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), a key arms control treaty with the United States which is due to expire on Feb. 5, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Putin and US President Joe Biden spoke on the phone on Tuesday expressing “satisfaction” over the exchange of diplomatic notes between both countries on extending the treaty  until February 5, 2026. On the same day, Putin submitted a bill on extending New START for five years to the State Duma (the lower house of parliament).

“Extending the New START Treaty ensures we have verifiable limits on Russian ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers until February 5, 2026,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said adding that the extension “makes the United States, U.S. allies and partners, and the world safer.”

“Especially during times of tension, verifiable limits on Russia’s intercontinental-range nuclear weapons are vitally important,” he said.

The New START  was signed in 2010 by former US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart at the time, Dmitry Medvedev. The treaty, which went into effect in 2011, limits each party to 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), 1,550 nuclear warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, and 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers.

It also envisions a rigorous inspection regime to verify compliance. After both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, New START is the only remaining nuclear arms control deal between the two countries.

Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Centre in Moscow, said with the New START having won a five-year extension, US and Russia need to move ahead with strategic stability talks and a new phase of arms control. “These issues being existential, they must be protected from extraneous irritants, such as domestic politics in both countries,” Trenin wrote in a tweet, adding, “There’re other battlefields for that”.