Top Russia diplomat hails progress in US START talks

Top Russia diplomat hails progress in US START treaty talks

Last week, the Kremlin welcomed US President Joe Biden's offer of a five-year extension of the New START treaty that is set to expire on February 5

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

 A senior Russian diplomat said Tuesday that Moscow and Washington were making quick progress to negotiate an extension of their last remaining nuclear arms control treaty.

Last week, US President Joe Biden had proposed a five-year extension of the New START treaty that is set to expire on February 5, and the Kremlin quickly welcomed the offer.

Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian ambassador at the international organizations in Vienna, said that Russia and the US “are making remarkable and speedy progress” on the pact's extension.

Read | Kremlin welcomes US offer to extend nuclear pact, seeks 'details'

“There are reasons to expect that the relevant agreement can become a reality very soon,” he tweeted.

The treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance.

Biden indicated during the campaign that he favoured the preservation of the New START treaty, which was negotiated during his tenure as US vice president.

Also Read | US President Joe Biden seeks five more years for last Russia nuclear pact but no 'reset'

Russia has long proposed to prolong the pact without any conditions or changes, but the Trump administration waited until last year to start talks and made the extension contingent on a set of demands. The talks stalled, and months of bargaining have failed to narrow differences.

The negotiations were also marred by tensions between Russia and the United States, which have been fueled by the Ukrainian crisis, Moscow's meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and other irritants.

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.