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Russia’s parliament approves extension of New START nuclear treaty

The Russian parliament has approved the extension of the last remaining nuclear arms control pact on Wednesday, days before it had been due to expire, according to the Kremlin.

Moscow, 27 January 2021 (dpa/MIA) – The Russian parliament has approved the extension of the last remaining nuclear arms control pact on Wednesday, days before it had been due to expire, according to the Kremlin.

The lower house of Russian parliament, the State Duma, voted unanimously to extend the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) treaty for five years. The upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, followed suit later in the day.

After being passed by parliament, the law introduced by Russian President Vladimir Putin comes into force upon publication.

“This is undoubtedly a step in the right direction,” said Putin at the World Economic Forum’s online “Davos” event. He had repeatedly warned of a costly new arms race should the treaty have fallen apart.

The Trump administration had negotiated with Russia on the issue, but had been unable to reach a deal.

The New START agreement went into effect in 2011 and establishes a deal between the United States and Russia setting controls on weapons stockpiles and allowing inspections.

The two countries control about 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons stockpile. New START limits the two countries to 1,550 ready-to-launch nuclear warheads and 800 launch systems each.

“This is a good term, which will allow us to work well either on the further extension or a new text of the treaty, provided that there is certain political will,” presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

According to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, the US and Russia have mainly bought themselves more time to negotiate a new agreement that could involve other nuclear powers as well as other types of weapons.

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden and Putin had held an initial call in which Biden had reiterated that the US wanted to extend the treaty. From Moscow’s point of view, the Russian part is now done.

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