04:08 GMT21 February 2020
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    United States President-elect Donald Trump said that anti-Russian sanctions could be lifted in exchange for a bilateral agreement on reducing nuclear arsenals.

    The arsenals should be reduced substantially, the President-elect noted in an interview with The Times newspaper.

    "For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it. But Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit," Trump said in the interview.

    The President-elect added that such an approach would result in "de-escalating international tensions."

    The statement indicates that for Trump’s administration nuclear arms reduction is more important than the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, but it makes no sense to connect removal of sanctions with the disarmament problem, according to Andrey Kortunov, Director of the Russian International Affair Council think-tank.

    "In Trump’s words, I can see two problems or, at least, two ambiguities. First, sanctions were not related to US-Russia talks on strategic armaments reduction. This is why there is no logic in connecting sanctions to the US-Russian dialogue on strategic nuclear arms. Sanctions should be discussed in the context of the Ukrainian crisis," Kortunov told RIA Novosti.

    He suggested that the European Union will consider sanctions as part of the Ukrainian peaceful process since Brussels cannot be involved in Moscow-Washington talks on nuclear disarmament.

    The second problem, according to the experts, is related to the negotiations between US and Russia on strategic arms reduction.

    "Moscow has repeatedly confirmed that it would be ready to continue dialogue with Washington on broader reduction of strategic arms if two conditions were met. First, compromise is needed on missile defenses," Kortunov explained.

    The second condition is adding third parties with nuclear arsenals to the next stage of the talks, he added.

    "Of course, the US and Russia could continue to reduce their nuclear arsenals. But at the same time, other countries having nuclear weapons would become more strategically significant. Resumption of this dialogue is not that simple. Trump’s words need to be clarified," he pointed out.

    However, the expert emphasized the importance of such statements by the US President-elect.

    "Trump indicates that the problem of strategic arms is more important the Ukraine and he is ready to consider lifting sanctions if his interests are respected. This is a signal and an invitation for a discussion," Kortunov said.

    Removal of sanctions is not one of the priority goals for Russia and Moscow should not abandon some of its security initiatives in exchange for concessions from Washington, according to Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev.

    He also said that Trump’s statement should be regarded as a suggestion or a possible scenario, rather than a concrete proposal.

    However, the senator underscored that Moscow is ready to continue dialogue on nuclear disarmament.

    "Of course, we’re ready. We will welcome any constructive proposals from Washington. If the two global leading nuclear powers had a strategic agreement this would be a signal to the entire world," Kosachev was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

    In 2010, Russia and the US signed New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). The agreement came into effect in 2011. The document limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear carriers to 700 and the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550. The duration of the treaty is 10 years.


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    talks, sanctions, Strategic Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), Donald Trump, United States, Russia
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