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Jan 27, 2021
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“In the coming days, the parties will complete all necessary procedures”: the United States and Russia exchanged notes on the extension of the START Treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin and the head of the White House, Joe Biden, held telephone talks. In particular, the parties welcomed the exchange of diplomatic notes on reaching an agreement on the extension of START III. The Kremlin press service noted that all the necessary procedures will be completed in the coming days. Putin has already submitted the corresponding bill on ratification to the State Duma. The Russian and American leaders also discussed a number of other issues in bilateral relations. According to analysts, the prolongation of the agreement will have a positive effect on global stability. However, experts believe that the Biden administration will not give up political pressure on Moscow in other areas.

Russian President Vladimir Putin held telephone talks with United States leader Joe Biden. This was reported by the Kremlin press service.

“Vladimir Putin congratulated Joseph Biden on the beginning of his presidency. He noted that the normalization of relations between Russia and the United States would meet the interests of both countries and – taking into account their special responsibility for maintaining security and stability in the world – of the entire international community, ”the statement says.

During the talks, the parties discussed “topical issues of the bilateral and international agenda”, including the possibilities of cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Open Skies Treaty, the problem of preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program, internal Ukrainian settlement and also Russia’s initiative to hold a summit of permanent members of the UN Security Council.

“On the whole, the conversation between the leaders of Russia and the United States was of a businesslike and frank nature. It was agreed to maintain contacts, “the Kremlin press service said.

In addition, the presidents of the two countries expressed satisfaction with the exchange of diplomatic notes carried out today on reaching an agreement to extend the treaty on strategic offensive arms (START III).

“In the coming days, the parties will complete all the necessary procedures to ensure the further functioning of this important international legal mechanism for the mutual limitation of nuclear missile arsenals,” the Kremlin said.

The Russian leader has already submitted to the State Duma a bill on the ratification of the agreement on the extension of the treaty between the United States and Russia on measures to further reduce and limit strategic offensive arms. According to the document, the contract is extended for five years – until February 2026. State Duma Speaker Viacheslav Volodin sent this bill to the relevant committee of the chamber. This was reported by the press service of the Duma.

The White House website also posted a message about telephone conversations between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden. It is noted that the parties “discussed the desire of both countries to extend START III for five years.”

“The two presidents have agreed to maintain transparent and constant communication in the future,” the statement says.

The White House chief also raised questions about cyberattacks against SolarWinds, reports that Russia allegedly offered rewards for the killings of US soldiers in Afghanistan, “interfering” in the US elections in 2020 and the incident with Alexei Navalny.

Earlier, Biden said that the presence of problematic issues between Washington and Moscow is not a reason for refusing to extend the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty (START III). The American leader announced this during a press conference.

“I believe that we can act in the interests of our countries, as in the case of the START III treaty, and at the same time make it clear to Russia that we are very worried about its behavior, be it the situation with Navalny, (hacker attack on. – RT) SolarWinds or reports of bounties for the heads of American soldiers in Afghanistan, ”Biden said.

As the head of the White House stressed, he “without the slightest hesitation” will raise controversial issues.

“I asked the relevant agencies to thoroughly brief me on all of these issues and report any progress,” Biden said.

  • Flags of Russia and USA
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  • © Vitaly Belousov

On the eve of Psaki recalled that earlier the US President instructed intelligence to study incidents that, in the opinion of the American authorities, may be related to Russia.

“Last week, we announced that the president had tasked the intelligence community with conducting a comprehensive assessment of a number of events, including, of course, the hacker attack on SolarWinds, Russian interference in the 2020 elections, the use of chemical weapons against Alexei Navalny, and the alleged rewards for the murder of American soldiers in Afghanistan. At present, this order is being carried out, ”she said.

A ball of accusations

Recall that in June last year, The New York Times, citing anonymous sources, including the US intelligence, published a number of articles claiming that the Russian side allegedly offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants for attacks on the US military and coalitions. operating in Afghanistan. However, the materials did not contain any evidence.

Donald Trump, who served as head of the White House at the time, accused the NYT of replicating “fake news” and called for the disclosure of an “anonymous source”, doubting its existence. Trump later said that US intelligence had recognized false information about Moscow’s alleged involvement in attacks on the American military in Afghanistan, and therefore did not provide him with this information.

  • The White house
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  • © Erin Scott

The Russian side also refuted this information many times. As stated in the Russian Foreign Ministry, the NYT article is “unpretentious stuffing.”

The Taliban * also reported that the figures were untrue.

However, members of the Democratic Party still called for sanctions against Russia. In particular, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said in an interview with MSNBC that Washington should do this “immediately.”

As for the topic of Russia’s “interference” in the 2020 elections, which the new US administration has now once again raised, it has already been repeatedly raised by the American political establishment. However, no evidence was presented either.

So, in October last year, shortly before the start of the presidential elections in the United States, at that time the director of US National Intelligence John Ratcliffe accused the Russian Federation of “interfering” in the electoral process in the United States and obtaining data on American voters. According to him, this information can be used to “wreak havoc and undermine the credibility of American democracy.”

Similar accusations were made against Russia after the elections.

For example, Mike Pompeo, who previously served as US secretary of state while still in power, said in December that Russia interfered in the American elections.

“We make Russians pay the price and urge them to stop this malicious activity. But this is a real challenge, ”he said.

The history of such accusations continued when, in early January, American intelligence agencies announced the possible involvement of Russia in cyber attacks on US government structures. Then it was noted that the FBI is engaged in the corresponding investigation.

The Russian authorities have repeatedly stated that Moscow was not involved in cyber attacks on the United States. According to the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov, such accusations “are absolutely unfounded” and rather are a continuation of “blind Russophobia, which is resorted to in any incident.”

Extension of START III

However, the apotheosis of the US accusations against Russia was the situation around Alexei Navalny, who, after arriving in Moscow from Germany, was first detained and later arrested by court order for 30 days. The FSIN noted multiple violations of the probationary period by the blogger.

The United States demanded the release of Navalny.

Dmitry Peskov then said that in the case of Navalny, we are talking about the fact of non-compliance with the Russian law by a citizen of the Russian Federation.

“This is an absolutely internal matter, and we will not allow anyone to interfere in it and do not intend to listen to such statements,” he said.

Against this background, discussions began in the United States as to whether it is possible to extend START III in the light of recent events.

  • Intercontinental ballistic missile launch
  • Reuters
  • © US Air Force ICBM / Senior Pilot Ian Dudley / Handout

Earlier, the new administration of the United States has repeatedly made it clear that it is ready to cooperate in the reduction of strategic offensive arms.

Last week, a White House spokeswoman said during a briefing that the new US administration is in favor of extending START III for a five-year term. According to Psaki, “given the current confrontation in relations with Russia,” the prolongation of the agreement seems to be an even more logical step. She also noted that by working with Moscow “to advance US interests,” Washington is also working “to hold it accountable for its reckless and hostile actions.”

The Kremlin greeted the “political will to extend” START III. This was announced to reporters by the press secretary of the Russian president.

“Will the conditions be compatible”

American political scientist Malek Dudakov believes that the extension of START III after Biden came to power was expected.

“This is a five-year extension, which is good news. Prolongation will have a positive effect on global stability and the arms control system, ”he said.

At the same time, the analyst notes that the extension of START III should not be viewed as the first step towards improving relations between Russia and the United States. In his opinion, it is quite expected that Biden will increase political pressure on Russia on other issues.

“I think we should expect new sanctions decisions. And if the Trump administration’s key concept was to criticize the Russian Federation for its foreign policy, then Biden just decided to concentrate on the domestic agenda, ”the expert concluded.

Political scientist Alexander Asafov adheres to a similar position.

“Surely the old accusations in situations with Navalny, hacker attacks on the United States,” interference “in the American elections,” collusion “between the Russian Federation and the Taliban are not all the topics that Washington wants to put on the agenda,” the analyst noted, not excluding the introduction sanctions.

* “Taliban” – the organization was recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation of February 14, 2003.

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