Vladimir Poutine welcomed Wednesday the extension of the Russian-American New Start treaty on the limitation of nuclear armaments, the day after an agreement in extremis, a step forward for the two great geopolitical rivals who maintain difficult relations.
Speaking during a video speech at the Davos Forum, the Russian president referred to “a step in the right direction”, but said that global security remained threatened due to growing international tensions.
The New Start Treaty is the latest bilateral agreement of its kind linking the two main world nuclear powers. Its extension raises the hope of an improvement in the dialogue between Washington and Moscow, a week after the coming to power of Joe Biden, even if the two powers have already warned that they would be firm on their interests national.
Moscow hastened to act on the extension of the agreement: the Russian Parliament thus unanimously ratified on Wednesday an extension of the agreement for five years, until 2026. Time is running out: the text expires on February 5.
Blockages under Trump
The Russian vote comes the day after the first telephone conversation between the Russian president and his new American counterpart. Negotiations on the New Start Treaty were blocked under President Donald Trump.
After this interview, Washington and Moscow said Tuesday evening that an agreement had finally been reached.
The extension is the first diplomatic breakthrough in years between the United States and Russia, whose relations are at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War, due to continuing disagreements on numerous international issues and mutual accusations of interference.
Signed in 2010, the agreement limits the arsenals of Russia and the United States to a maximum of 1,550 warheads deployed for each of these two countries, a reduction of nearly 30% from the previous ceiling set in 2002.
It also restricts the number of launchers and heavy bombers to 800, which is still enough to destroy Earth multiple times.
The Trump administration had only agreed to a conditional extension of one year, the time to negotiate a more comprehensive agreement that included China, but talks with Moscow and Beijing were unsuccessful.
These negotiations took place in the midst of Donald Trump’s questioning of important international texts binding the United States.
During his tenure, Washington thus quit three other important agreements: that on Iranian nuclear power, the INF treaty on medium-range land missiles and the Open Skies treaty on the verification of military movements and the limitation of armaments.
Russia has therefore also left this latest agreement.
Despite a rapprochement on the New Start treaty, Joe Biden, who wants to be much more offensive towards Russia than his predecessor, spoke on Tuesday evening of the subjects that annoy Vladimir Poutin.
According to his spokesperson, the American president mentioned “Russia’s aggression” against Ukraine, “the poisoning” in August of the Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny, imprisoned since January 17, or the accusations of Russian electoral interference and computer attacks against the United States.
On Monday, Russian diplomacy protested against the role of the United States embassy and American internet giants after opposition protests that brought together tens of thousands of people across Russia on Saturday.
The Russian president, who was one of the last heads of state to congratulate Biden on his victory in the November election, said at the end of December that he did not expect any radical change in relations between Moscow and Washington.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, for his part, stressed on Wednesday that the conditions for “a restart” of relations between Russia and the United States were “for the moment” not met.