This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The United States has responded to Russia’s call to continue negotiations on the New START arms-control treaty by reiterating a U.S. proposal and saying the Russians have “rejected” attempts to restart the talks.
The U.S. proposal calls for a one-year extension of New START and an undefined warhead freeze to which Marshall Billingslea, U.S. President Donald Trump’s special arms-control envoy, said Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed.
“We already responded, repeatedly. 5 times we offered, incl. in writing, to meet to finalize the freeze/extension deal to which Putin agreed,” Billingslea said on Twitter. The Russian Foreign Ministry “rejected all mtgs,” he added. “All we need to do is define what we are freezing, the cap level & start verification talks.”
Billingslea’s comment responded to an earlier tweet from a government-run Kremlin account that said, “We are ready to continue the dialogue with the US, but for that our partners need to respond.”
Talks on the treaty, which expires in February, have been stalled since October. New START is the last remaining bilateral nuclear-arms pact between the two countries.
Russia in November revived an earlier call for an unconditional New START extension for the five-year maximum.
Putin also mentioned New START during his annual press conference on December 17, calling for a one-year extension.
The New START accord, signed in 2010, limits the numbers of strategic nuclear warheads, missiles, and bombers that Russia and the United States can deploy.
Several rounds of talks between the two countries took place earlier this year with no breakthrough on a possible extension.
Russia at one point proposed a one-year New START extension and a strategic and tactical warhead freeze also for one year, but only if Washington sought no further conditions.
Moscow discarded the idea after Washington demanded strict verification measures, a complex negotiating process.