Russia and the United States extend the “New START” treaty

The Kremlin said on Tuesday, that Russia and the United States have concluded an agreement to extend the New START treaty to limit nuclear weapons, in a move that preserves the last major agreement of its kind between the two largest nuclear powers in the world.

The White House did not confirm the Kremlin’s announcement, but it said that US Presidents Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the issue by phone and agreed that their teams would work quickly to complete the extension process by February 5, when the treaty expires.

The New START Treaty to Reduce Strategic Nuclear Weapons, signed in 2010, restricts the number of strategic nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers that Russia and the United States can deploy.

The Kremlin announced the widely expected breakthrough, in a statement that Putin and Biden spoke for the first time since Biden took office last week.

Moscow and Washington failed to agree on the extension under former US President Donald Trump, whose administration wanted to attach conditions to the renewal, which was rejected by Moscow.

The Kremlin said the two leaders “expressed their satisfaction” over the exchange of diplomatic documents between the two countries earlier Tuesday, stressing that the agreement would be extended.

He added that the procedures necessary for the agreement to enter into force, before its deadline on February 5 expires, will be completed in the coming days.

The White House said last week that Biden would seek to extend the treaty for five years, something that Robert Wood, the US ambassador to disarmament, said would only be the start of outreach efforts with Moscow.

“This extension carries a more logical significance when the relationship with Russia is not good,” Wood said at the United Nations disarmament conference in Geneva.

“The time gained by extending New START will allow Russia and the United States to work hard to uncover together answers to the questions that have arisen in the field of international security and strategic stability,” Gennady Gatilov, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said earlier.

The Kremlin said in its statement that Putin told Biden that normalizing relations between Moscow and Washington would be in the interest of both countries.

He added that the two leaders also discussed the US decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty during the Trump era, as well as Iran’s nuclear program and the conflict in Ukraine.