US President Donald Trump intends to conclude an agreement on strategic offensive weapons (start) with Russia in the last days before the US presidential election, scheduled for November 3. This is reported by the publication Axios, citing a source familiar with Moscow and Washington’s negotiations.
The source said the Trump administration believes it has reached an agreement in principle with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the nuclear deal.
Axios claims that the head of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, and US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien in Geneva on October 2 allowed us to talk about the extension of Start in the coming weeks. This meeting gave a “boost” to the talks between Moscow and Washington. As a result, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has planned a trip to Helsinki, where he is to meet with Trump’s arms control envoy, Marshall Billingslea.
The publication notes that Trump’s plans to conclude a nuclear deal with Putin before the presidential election came as a surprise to senior Republicans and White House staff.
The Treaty between Russia and the United States on measures for further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms (Start-3) entered into force in 2011. It expires in February 2021.
Moscow was ready to extend the Treaty on current terms. Still, in the summer of 2020, Washington proposed including China in it and creating a strict verification mechanism and extending the agreement to all nuclear warheads. The Russian Foreign Ministry concluded that the United States will not extend the agreement and called its fate “a foregone conclusion.
In September, Billingslea said that the American conditions for extending start are a “good offer” for Russia, despite some contradictions. Moscow said it was not ready to sign the document on the terms proposed by the US and called them an “ultimatum.”
Speaking at the UN General Assembly on September 22, Putin said that the extension of the Treaty on measures for further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms is a priority issue that must be resolved promptly. A week later, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov called the American demands for Start unacceptable and said that Washington had brought the situation almost to a time limit.