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New nuclear deal depends on US/NATO security talks – Russia

The chances of clinching a major deal to reduce the risk of nuclear war will depend on current talks about NATO expansions and tensions in eastern Europe, a top Russian  official has said.

In an interview with RIA Novosti on Monday, Vladimir Yermakov, the director of arms control at the Russian Foreign Ministry, emphasized that it is difficult to make progress on nuclear non-proliferation before the two sides have found common ground on other security matters.

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“The question of legal security guarantees for our side, concerning the ‘critical mass’ of problems that has built up in Russian-Western relations, has become so urgent that it has pushed a whole array of other important items on the strategic agenda down to secondary importance,” Yermakov explained.

“Further dialogue with the Americans about strategic stability will depend in large part on how the questions concerning the security guarantees are decided,” he went on. “For now, there is no time-table for new meetings for strategic discussions.”

Yermakov also emphasized the importance of deals, including New START, a nuclear arms reduction treaty signed by Russia and the US in 2010, which was extended last year and will last until 2026. The agreement replaced the Treaty of Moscow, which expired in 2012, and calls for halving the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers.

Asked whether Russia fears that American elections and changes of power between the Democratic and Republican parties could lead to the US pulling out of a treaty like New START, Yermakov replied, “When it comes to questions of international security and strategic stability, we don’t orient ourselves at all to the US election cycle. We also have no desire to make a ‘schedule’ or artificial time limit for the negotiators. The only thing we need to pay attention to is the length of New START.”

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing the US from the INF non-proliferation treaty, which had been signed between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. Trump cited supposed Russian non-compliance and reports of arms buildup by China, not a party to the agreement, as the reasons for the withdrawal.

American and European leaders have been warning for months that they fear Moscow could be planning an invasion of Ukraine in the near future, and have pointed to reports of Russian troop buildup on the two nations’ border. Russia has consistently denied that it has aggressive intentions, arguing that it is only moving soldiers within its own territory, and has called for security guarantees that would limit the expansion of NATO, the US-led military bloc, into Ukraine or Georgia. Western officials have said that the terms of that deal are unacceptable.

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