Latest remarks from Russia about relations with US, nuclear treaties

Speaking to Izvestiya, the foreign minister of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, delivered a speech on the current state of relations between Moscow and Washington as well as the future of the now effectively dead Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

According to Lavrov, Russia and the United States bear responsibility for international strategic stability and that good bilateral relations between the two countries – to which nuclear arms control treaties are strongly-linked – are critical to this.

The Russian foreign minister emphasized that Russia has constantly striven in recent years to improve bilateral relations with the US, specifically so to prevent a scenario where the two countries (both the largest nuclear-armed military powers in the world) are reduced to a finger-on-the-button level of diplomatic interaction.

The main concern expressed by Lavrov was that since the US abandoned its obligations under the INF treaty, the future of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), set to expire in early 2021 but with a five-year extension option, is now very much in doubt.

Following up on this, the Russian FM said that Moscow has repeatedly suggested to the US that a dialogue towards attempting to extend New START by at least another five years be initiated during which time a new deal can be worked out.

Since the US unilaterally withdrew from the INF treaty, both it and Russia have slowly returned to either building new short-to-medium range nuclear missile designs or re-activating Cold War-era designs that were deactivated in the 1980s because of the agreement.