Russian Parliament OKs Treaty Extension01/27 06:13
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian lawmakers on Wednesday quickly approved the extension
of the last remaining nuclear Russia-U.S. arms control, a fast-track action
that comes just days before it's due to expire.
Both houses of parliament voted unanimously to extend the New START treaty
for five years, a day after a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and
Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin said they agreed to complete the
necessary extension procedures in the next few days.
The pact's extension doesn't require congressional approval in the U.S., but
Russian lawmakers must ratify the move and Putin has to sign the relevant bill
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told lawmakers that the extension
will be validated by exchanging diplomatic notes once all the procedures are
Upper house Speaker Valentina Matvienko said after the vote that the
decision to extend the pact shows that Russia and the U.S. can reach agreements
on major issues despite the tensions between them.
New START expires on Feb. 5. After taking office last week, Biden proposed
extending the treaty for five years, and the Kremlin quickly welcomed the offer.
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 favored the preservation of the
New START treaty, which was negotiated during his tenure as U.S. vice president.
Russia has long proposed prolonging 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 U.S. 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.
Earlier this month, Russia announced that it would follow the U.S. in
pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, which allowed surveillance flights over
military facilities, to help build trust and transparency between Russia and
Before the Biden administration took office, Russia always had offered to
extend New START for five years --- a possibility that was envisaged by the
pact at the time it was signed. But President Donald Trump charged that it put
the U.S. at a disadvantage. Trump initially insisted that China be added to the
treaty, an idea that Beijing bluntly dismissed.
The Trump administration then proposed to extend New START for just one year
and also sought to expand it to include limits on battlefield nuclear weapons.