Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the international affairs committee of the Russian legislature, said Putin’s proposal would ease pressure on a deal before the expiry of the deal and separate arms talks from pre-election politics in the United States.
The Trump administration has declined to agree to a five-year extension with no changes, an option that would not require Senate approval. Mr Trump has found this unacceptable as the treaty signed by President Obama did not cover all of Russia’s or China’s nuclear weapons.
However, China has refused to join a revised version of New Start, arguing that its nuclear arsenal is tiny compared to that of the US or Russia.
While looking to save New Start, Russia has shown little interest in giving President Trump a foreign policy victory in less than three weeks ahead of a US presidential election, which may suggest that it expects Mr Biden to win. Senior Russian officials this week despised the claims made by Trump negotiator Marshall Billingslea about a “top-level agreement in principle between our two governments to renew the treaty.”
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei A. Ryabkov dismissed this as a fantasy. “Washington describes what is wanted, not what is real,” Ryabkov, Russia’s chief negotiator, said in a statement.
However, Russia’s open derision of the alleged deal made Moscow look sullen and risked putting Putin’s longstanding efforts to portray his country as heavily committed to arms control, unlike the United States, which has abandoned a number of US agreements the past.
Mr Putin’s proposal on Friday, said Dmitri Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center and a seasoned foreign affairs analyst, suggested an attempt to correct Russia’s image from this week’s dispute of being more than an offer with a real chance accepted.