Russia welcomes US proposal to extend nuclear treaty

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Russian Defense Ministry Press Service

FILE - In this file photo taken from a video distributed by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, a rocket launches from missile system as part of the drills, a ground-based intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from the Plesetsk facility in northwestern Russia. Russia's top diplomat says that Moscow is ready for a quick deal with the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to extend the last remaining arms control pact, which expires in just over two weeks. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP, File)

MOSCOW – The Kremlin on Friday welcomed U.S. President Joe Biden’s proposal to extend the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the two countries, which is set to expire in less than two weeks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that Russia stands for extending the pact and is waiting to see the details of the U.S. proposal.

The White House said Thursday that Biden has proposed to Russia a five-year extension of the New START treaty.

“We can only welcome political will to extend the document,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters. “But all will depend on the details of the proposal.”

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. It expires on Feb. 5.

Russia has long proposed to prolong the pact without any conditions or changes, but former President Donald Trump’s 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.

“Certain conditions for the extension have been put forward, and some of them have been absolutely unacceptable for us, so let's see first what the U.S. is offering,” Peskov said.

Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian ambassador at the international organizations in Vienna, also hailed Biden’s proposal as an “encouraging step.”