Richard Weitz: the extension of the START treaty does not mean a break in relations between the United States and Russia
Richard Weitz Discusses the Future of the START Treaty
At the same time, the current agreement on the limitation of offensive arms remains a symbol of strategic stability between our two countries.
US President Joe Biden will push for a five-year extension of the strategic offensive arms reduction and limitation treaty with Russia known as START III. This was announced on Thursday by the White House. The contract expires on February 5.
«I can confirm that the United States intends to pursue a five-year extension of START III, in accordance with the terms of the agreement. The President has made it clear that START III is in the national security interests of the United States. Prolongation of the treaty makes even more sense when relations with Russia are as hostile as at present. START-3 – the only remaining treaty limiting Russia’s nuclear forces, and it is a symbol of strategic stability between our two countries», – said a spokeswoman for the White House Jen Psaki.
The White House decision is one of the important foreign policy decisions of the new administration. The Kremlin welcomed this step.
«Russia and the Russian President have consistently advocated the preservation of this most important and cornerstone document from the point of view of world stability and security. Therefore, if our American colleagues really show the will to preserve this document through its initial extension, this can only be welcomed.» – said the spokesman for the Russian president Dmitry Peskov.
Donald Trump’s administration at one time tried to put forward additional conditions for the extension of the agreement, which Moscow rejected. Richard Weitz (Richard Weitz), a senior military analyst at the Hudson Institute, notes that extending the agreement for five years will give the United States more time to develop next steps in this direction. For example, discuss systems that are not covered by the existing agreement – Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons.
«Existing contract – the only major agreement in force between the United States and Russia limiting nuclear forces, their number, and the development of Russian strategic forces. The American arsenal will be below the established norm for the next five years, so it is logical that Russia also does not exceed this norm. The agreement also provides an opportunity to check the nuclear arsenal of the two countries. Without this agreement, relations between Washington and Moscow would be in free flight. Given that the new administration plans to hold the Kremlin accountable for cyberattacks, the poisoning of Navalny and other Russian actions, it is desirable to have a positive element that can be used in the future.», – expert thinks.
Richard Weitz stresses: extending the treaty does not mean deepening cooperation between countries.
«In some cases, an arms control treaty is needed when relations between countries are bad, as it is now. I believe that tensions between the US and Russia will continue over the next four years. – he adds. – We have seen several attempts to improve them over the past decades. – after “cold war”, attacks on September 11, 2001, under the presidency of Obama and Trump. They all failed. So it is quite understandable why this administration does not seek to take active steps. Yes, relations can improve, but this will require not only efforts from the United States, but also a new leadership in Russia that will be more open to cooperation with the West.».
Richard Weitz believes that the extension of the START-3 treaty will not affect the modernization of the US nuclear triad, which was started by former US President Donald Trump.
Against this background, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force today. – the first instrument in the field of nuclear disarmament in more than 20 years. UN Secretary General António Guterres and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement welcomed the event. The treaty has been ratified by 51 states, but the main nuclear powers, including the United States and Russia, are not among them.