- The Washington Times - Friday, October 16, 2020

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday proposed extending the last remaining arms deal with the U.S. — which is set to expire in February — for one year without additional conditions.

His suggestion follows weeks of seemingly stalled negotiations between Washington and Moscow.

U.S. officials have recently claimed that “an agreement in principle” had been reached — an assertion that Russian negotiators denied.

“I have a proposal — which is to extend the current agreement without any preconditions at least for one year to have an opportunity to conduct substantial negotiations,” Mr. Putin said during a meeting of Russia’s security council, according to a Kremlin statement.

He requested that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “formulate our position to try and get at least some sort of coherent answer from them in the nearest future.”

Days earlier, Mr. Lavrov said that while he does not see a future for the agreement with the U.S., talks will continue.

His deputy, Sergei Ryabkov, said Wednesday that “if the Americans need to report to their superiors something about which they allegedly agreed with the Russian Federation before their elections, then they will not get it.”

The 10-year-old New Strategic Arms Treaty (New START) limits the number of deployable U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons to 1,550. The accord also reduced by half the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers each side may have and set up a new inspection and verification regime to prevent violations.

Mr. Putin has previously said he is ready to extend the current deal another five years, something he and Mr. Trump could do on their own. Russia has balked at some U.S. demands in the talks and at the Trump administration’s argument that China’s growing nuclear arsenal should be included in the accord.

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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