Russia Ready To US-Proposed Short-Period New START Extension, If It's Reasonable - Ryabkov

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 22nd September, 2020) Moscow agrees to the US proposal to extend START for a period of less than five years, but regrets this and insists that a shorter period should be reasonable, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Monday.

US President Donald Trump's special envoy for arms control Marshall Billingslea said earlier that Washington was proposing Moscow to agree before the New START expiration in February 2021 a framework document (a memorandum) at the presidential level in the field of arms control, which, according to the United States, should include clause on China's participation in the development of a new long-term Treaty. The US side announced that it was ready to conclude such a memorandum "tomorrow" and it would not require ratification. Billingslea said Russia should have agreed to the proposal before the US presidential election in November, otherwise "when Trump is re-elected, the "admission fee" will rise.

"We would prefer, of course, a five-year term. But if the United States is not ready for this which we regret then an extension for a shorter period is possible. But for a reasonably shorter one. If the New START extension period, to which the United States would be willing to agree, will be so short that during this time we will not be able to agree on anything serious with them in the future, it will be a bad decision. Although still something is better than nothing," Ryabkov said in an interview with the Kommersant newspaper.

At the same time, he stressed that Russia would not pay "the price requested by the Americans for an extension even for five years, let alone a shorter period."

"We do not strive to extend the agreement at any cost. We want to try to agree on something else on a reciprocal basis, but so far, there is no such readiness on the US side. Therefore, by and large, there is no difference when we do not agree right now or in some short period after the expiration of the current term of the New START," Ryabkov said.