Russia Rejects U.S. Call To 'Freeze' Nuclear Arsenals As Arms Treaty Set To Expire

Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

https://www.rferl.org/

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow doesn't see any prospects for extending the New START arms-control treaty with the United States, though it plans to carry on with negotiations on the subject.

"No. I personally don't see such prospects. My colleagues who are working in an interagency format and holding meetings with the American delegation don't see such prospects either, although we'll never declare any intention to slam the door and terminate all contacts," Lavrov said in an interview with Russian radio stations on October 14.

The top Russian diplomat also dismissed as "unscrupulous " suggestions by the U.S. envoy for arms control, Marshall Billingslea, that Washington and Moscow had reached "an agreement in principle" to extend their last remaining bilateral nuclear arms pact for an unspecified period.

The 2010 treaty limits strategic nuclear weapons and is due to expire in February, although it can be extended for five years.

Billingslea cut short a trip to Asia last week to fly to the Finnish capital of Helsinki for a new round of 11th-hour arms-control talks with his Russian counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, under the impression the two sides would reach a breakthrough compromise.

"We are in fact willing to extend the New START treaty for some period of time provided that they, in return, agree to a limitation -- a freeze -- on their nuclear arsenal," Billingslea said on October 13 at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank.

"We believe that there is an agreement in principle at the highest levels of our two governments," he said, suggesting an informal agreement between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

Billingslea said the freeze should include short-range, tactical nuclear weapons systems, something that is not covered under New START.

Ryabkov quickly threw cold water on a broad nuclear freeze, calling it an "unacceptable" proposal.

"But with so many differences, I cannot imagine on what basis our colleagues in Washington are putting out such theories," he told the RIA Novosti news agency.

"The U.S. position in favor of freezing has long been known to us, it is unacceptable for us. Not because we are against freezing, but because we need to deal with the problems of strategic stability in a complex: we need to deal with launch vehicles, we need to deal with space, we need to deal with missile defense -- a system that the United States is creating, it is necessary to deal with their new strategic range carriers in conventional equipment," Ryabkov said

The Russian diplomat said Moscow would not agree to any extension of New START before the November 3 U.S. election.

"If the Americans need to report to their superiors something about which they allegedly agreed with the Russian Federation before their elections, they will not get it," Ryabkov said.

Joe Biden, who leads Trump in all major polls, supports extending New START "to use that as a foundation for new arms control arrangements." If Biden wins, the treaty will expire just weeks after he is inaugurated.

Biden calls the treaty--which was negotiated when he was vice president under President Barack Obama--an "anchor of strategic stability between the United States and Russia."

The Trump administration wants any new nuclear arms-control treaty to cover all types of warheads, stronger verification and transparency measures, and bring China on board.

Beijing, which has a fraction of the nuclear weapons of Russia and the United States, has rejected the idea.

Billingslea said that the United States was still insisting on the participation of China in any agreement with Russia.

"Everything we agree with the Russians must be framed and must be formatted in a way that allows us to extend that arrangement to the Chinese when they are finally brought to the negotiating table," Billingslea said.

Russia has said it is ready to extend New START for five years without preconditions and has warned that there is not enough time to renegotiate a complicated new treaty.

Daryl Kimball, the director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, wrote on Twitter that while a temporary freeze may be useful, both sides should agree on a five-year extension of the treaty.

"Whether Russia agrees to the U.S. 'freeze' concept on the eve of the U.S. election -- and the gaps between the Trump administration and the Kremlin still appear to be very wide at this point -- a five year extension of New START is very much in the interest of both sides," he wrote.

On October 13, more than 75 lawmakers across Europe called on the United States to extend New START before it expires in February.

"While we support the call to discuss the next generation of arms control and the need to consider the role of the Chinese nuclear arsenal, extending New START and engaging in good faith dialogue with other nuclear powers are not mutually exclusive," the letter from the European Leadership Network states.

"As was evident in the process that led to New START, time is needed to negotiate solutions that meet the laudable goals put forward by both the United States and Russia during their strategic stability talks this year. In short, extending the duration of New START is not an end," the lawmakers wrote to their colleagues in the U.S. Congress.

The Trump administration has already left the landmark, Cold War-era Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, accusing Russia of violating it. Washington also unilaterally exited Open Skies, a treaty that permits the United States and Russia to conduct reconnaissance flights over each other's territory.

With reporting by Reuters, Interfax, AFP, and dpa

Related news

G7 'Alarmed' By Ukraine 'Undoing' Anti-Graft Reforms.

The Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialized countries says it is "alarmed" by the rollback of reforms in Ukraine after the Constitutional Court stripped the country's anti-corruption agency of some of its critical powers.

Russia's Annual Commemoration Of Victims Of Stalin's Great Purge Held Online.

An annual ceremony to commemorate thousands of people executed during communist dictator Josef Stalin's Great Terror has been held in Moscow and some other Russian cities online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Of Ufa, Capital Of Russia's Bashkortostan, Dies Of COVID-19.

The mayor of Ufa, the capital of Russia's Bashkortostan region, Ulfat Mustafin, has died of COVID-19 at the age of 61.

Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia Singled Out For 'Entrenched' Impunity In Killings Of Journalists.

Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia remain near the top on the list of countries where the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says "impunity" in cases of murdered journalists is "entrenched."

Putin Says Russia Ready To Work With Anyone Who Wins U.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country is ready to work with any U.S. president, regardless of who wins next week's election.

U.S. Whistle-Blower Snowden Will Be Father, Child Can Be Russian Citizen

Whistle-blower Edward Snowden will become a father by the end of the year and his child is eligible to be a citizen of Russia, where the U.S. citizen has been living since in 2013 after releasing details of the U.S. electronic-surveillance program.

Uzbek Scholar Andrei Kubatin Dies Of COVID-19 One Year After Release From Prison.

Andrei Kubatin, a well-known Uzbek scholar who was released from prison a year ago after a court fully exonerated him of espionage charges, has died of COVID-19 at the age of 36. Media reports in Uzbekistan cited the Uzbek Academy of Sciences as s...

Uzbek Scholar Andrei Kubatin Dies Of COVID-19 One Year After Release From Prison.

Andrei Kubatin, a well-known Uzbek scholar who was released from prison a year ago after a court fully exonerated him of espionage charges, has died of COVID-19 at the age of 36.

Moscow Court Sentences 'New Greatness' Group Member To Six Years In Prison.

A court in Moscow has sentenced a member of the so-called New Greatness movement to six years in prison on extremism charges.

Belarus Interior Minister Replaced As Lukashenka Tightens Grip On Country Amid Turmoil.

Belarusian Interior Minister Yury Karayeu has been replaced a day after he publicly said that security forces can use live munitions against demonstrators who have flooded the country's streets for weeks of protests against a disputed election tha...

1 19

By continuing to browse World News (UAZMI), you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and agree to the use of cookies