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Trump Administration Rejects Putin Offer on New START

Oct. 17, 2020 (EIRNS)—The Trump Administration has rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to extend New START for one year. Just a few hours after Putin had issued his instructions to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during the live broadcast portion of a meeting of the Russian Security Council, U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien issued a written statement in which he expressed regret for Moscow’s position and touting the U.S. approach, which he said “would have been a win for both sides.” He said he had thought the Russians were willing to accept the American proposal when he met with them, including Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, in Geneva on Oct. 2. “President Putin’s response today to extend New START without freezing nuclear warheads is a non-starter,” O’Brien said. “The United States is serious about arms control that will keep the entire world safe. We hope that Russia will reevaluate its position before a costly arms race ensues.”

“The United States made every effort,” arms control envoy Marshall Billingslea added in a Twitter posting. “It is disappointing that the Russian Federation backtracked on an agreement covering all nuclear warheads for the first time. This would have been an historic deal, good for the U.S., Russia, and the world.”

Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, in an op-ed in RT a short while later, said: “Billingslea’s mission was always a bridge too far, seeking to compel Russia into accepting what amounted to a new arms control framework that lacked both a legally binding vehicle such as a treaty, and a system of verification,” Ritter writes. “Putin’s statement put to rest any notion that Trump was going to be able to get the arms control talking point he wanted: that he had personally negotiated an improvement to the Obama-era New START treaty.”

Ritter argues that Putin’s statement was not just aimed at Trump, but at Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, too, who has said in the past that he would sign an extension of New START should he take office in January. “The thought of Joe Biden getting a major foreign policy victory so early in his administration alone should drive Trump to take up Putin’s offer before Nov. 3,” Ritter concludes. “But one thing is for certain: Putin doesn’t care who he signs an agreement with, just as long as the New START treaty vehicle is preserved while a new treaty is negotiated.”

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