What Russia expects from US on arms control

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov File picture: Alexander Zemlianichenko

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov File picture: Alexander Zemlianichenko

Published Jan 20, 2021


Russia expects US President-elect Joe Biden to give concrete proposals on the extension of the reduction and limitation of the arms treaty that expires on February 1.

Speaking yesterday during a two-and-a-half hour review and question-and-answer session on the country’s foreign policy achievements during 2020, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Biden administration was likely to accept agreement with Russia and China in those spheres where it would be in the US’s interests and where they would not be able to do without dialogue with Moscow and Beijing.

“The most important and, probably, top priority area is the absolutely abnormal situation in the sphere of arms control. We have heard about the Biden administration’s plans to resume dialogue with us on these topics, including plans to try to agree to the extension of the New Start before its expiration. We will be waiting for concrete proposals. Our position is well known and it is still in force,” Lavrov told the Zoom conference.

The Treaty between the US and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New Start Treaty) was signed in 2010 and entered into force on February 5, 2011.

It limits the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and strategic bombers, as well as the number of warheads that can be deployed.

Lavrov said Russia was aware of American plans to review the decisions on the country’s withdrawal from a number of international agreements and organisations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Unesco and the UN Human Rights Council, that were taken under Donald Trump’s administration.

“Let us wait and see. We entertain no illusions,” he said. “We are realistic and we have our initiatives on all issues of the agenda that are more or less significant for humankind. And a number of such initiatives are being implemented.

“To put it in a nutshell, we don’t expect radical changes but, of course, methods of promoting America’s leadership will probably be somewhat different.”

The review was dominated by recent events in the US and the incoming Biden administration with the overall view being that it was unlikely the new administration would provide any dramatic new changes.

Lavrov said it was likely President-elect Biden would try to impose a policy based on American values and thwart attempts to unite Russia and China against America.

He said Biden would have to realise America and Russia had a mutual responsibility for global stability and in international co-operation in areas such combating climate change, terrorism, organised crime, cyber crime and drugs.

Lavrov said one of the trends determined during the year was growing efforts to use smaller, self-interest groups to fashion policy to suit their requirements and impose such policies by circumventing international organisations such as the UN.

Most of the review featured issues in the European theatre, with Africa only getting an aside mention in the countries Russia had dealt with during the creation of its Covid vaccines.

The first registered Covid-19 vaccine was Russia’s Sputnik V, and the country is looking to have its third vaccine registered soon.

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