Putin and Biden confirm extension of New START treaty

27 January 2021

US President Biden and Russia’s President Putin spoke by telephone on 26 January 2021 and agreed to extend New START for five years.

Formally called the “New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty,” the agreement limits Washington and Moscow’s deployed nuclear weapons to 1,550 each. It was signed in 2010, entered force on February 5, 2011 and was set to expire on its 10th anniversary. It is the last remaining nonproliferation agreement between the US and Russia, after another key nuclear accord, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, expired in August 2019.

The summary of the call issued by the White House said that they “discussed both countries’ willingness to extend New START for five years, agreeing to have their teams work urgently to complete the extension by February 5. They also agreed to explore strategic stability discussions on a range of arms control and emerging security issues.”

According to Politico, the Kremlin said the presidents also discussed the coronavirus pandemic, the Open Skies Treaty and the Iran nuclear deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as well as the conflict in Ukraine and Putin’s call for a summit meeting of permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

The National Interest writes that it “is good news as both countries agree to extend the last major piece of arms control agreement between them”, and quotes Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as confirming that the Avangard hypersonic delivery systems fall under the purview of the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty. “The counting rules within the framework of [New START] will, of course, apply to such new warheads as “Avangard,” if it undergoes ratification and is extended by five years.”

“I want to underline that any future agreements are possible only on the basis of parity,” concluded Ryabkov, referring to the prospects of additional arms treaties between Russia and the United States. “Any unilateral concessions from the Russian side are out of the question,” he added.

Readout of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Call with President Vladimir Putin of Russia (White House)
Putin and Biden confirm extension of New START treaty (Politico)
Russia Confirm Avangard Missile System Falls Under New START (National Interest)