Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the International Volunteer Forum at the Olympic Park in Sochi, Russia, Dec. 5, 2019. (Shamil Zhumatov/Pool Photo via AP)

Putin offers US to extend key nuclear pact right now

December 05, 2019 - 12:36 pm

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Moscow is prepared to immediately extend the only remaining nuclear arms reduction pact with the United States.

Speaking at a meeting with military officials, Putin said that Russia has repeatedly offered the U.S. to extend the New START treaty that expires in 2021 but that it hasn’t heard back.

“Russia is ready to extend the New START treaty immediately, before the year’s end and without any preconditions,” he said.

The pact, which was signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers.

Putin and other Russian officials have repeatedly voiced concern about Washington’s reluctance to discuss the treaty’s extension.

“Our proposals have been on the table, but we have got no response from our partners,” Putin said.

New START is the only remaining U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control treaty after both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty earlier this year.

The U.S. said it pulled out because of Russian violations, a claim the Kremlin has denied.

Putin reaffirmed Russia's pledge not to deploy missiles banned by the INF treaty until the U.S. and its allies do so.

“Russia isn’t interested in unleashing a new arms race,” he said.

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