Russia’s presidential aide for international affairs has signaled that the Kremlin is open to discussions with Washington over a new arms control treaty that would also involve Beijing, given China’s rise as a military power.
However, the Kremlin official noted that such a deal might be reached only through “serious negotiations, which unfortunately no one has yet begun,” RIA Novosti quoted Yuri Viktorovich Ushakov as saying during a television interview that aired on Russia 1 on Sunday. “First of all, it is necessary to carry out what remains (the existing agreements).”
According to media reports, U.S. President Donald J. Trump has ordered his administration to prepare a draft of a new trilateral nuclear agreement with Russia and China that would allow the United States to bring Russian nuclear weapons that are currently unregulated by treaties under new limits, while persuading China to join an arms-control pact.
In February, the Trump administration announced that it would be pulling the U.S. out from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), saying Russia had been violating the agreement, signed in 1987 between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, "with impunity.” However American officials have also been concerned about China’s military build-up, which has skyrocketed since the signing of the landmark nuclear treaty – which did not include China, thereby not requiring Beijing to adhere to any of its terms.
The recent impetus to sign a new treaty that includes China comes on the heels of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week.
“Today I saw President Putin in Russia declare that he was glad to have the opportunity to help the U.S. with Kim Jong-un and North Korea,” RBK quoted Trump as saying on April 26, commenting on the Putin-Kim meeting that took place near Vladivostok a day earlier.
“We want to get rid of nuclear weapons, we all have to. Russia must get rid of him, China must get rid of him,” he added.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that given the increasing role of nuclear weapons in U.S. military doctrine and a gradual transition to a class of weapons that can be used on the battlefield, such statements by Trump can be only welcomed.
“Using medium-range target missiles and deploying launchers in Romania and Poland that are fit for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles, the U.S. has openly violated these clauses of the Treaty,” Putin said in his State Of The Nation address to Russian lawmakers on February 20. He added that Russia was ready for talks with the U.S. on disarmament issues, “but we won't knock on the closed door anymore.”
The INF treaty banned two former Cold War foes, namely the United States and the Soviet Union, from developing and deploying ground-based missiles that could travel between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, or about 300 to 3,400 miles. This landmark deal changed the course of events between the two global superpowers that were moments away from a nuclear war.
The New START accord – the last big arms-control pact remaining between Washington and Moscow – is reportedly in line to be suspended. Initiated by former U.S. President Barack Obama, the treaty provides for a substantial reduction in the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles, ballistic missiles on submarines and heavy bombers, as well as warheads and deployed and non-deployed launch vehicles installations. If not prolonged, the treaty will expire in 2021.