14:16 GMT18 January 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The extension of the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty for a maximum possible period serves the interests of both Russia, the United States and the global community, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Sputnik.

    "We would like to expect that the new US administration, just like us, will proceed from an obvious fact that the New START extension with no additional conditions and, preferably, for the maximum envisioned period of five years would serve the security interests of both our countries and the whole international community", Lavrov said.

    The minister added that, judging by statements for the media, the team of President-elect Biden, unlike the previous partners in this dialogue, is not interested in making the New Start hostage to its ambitions and trying to 'force' obviously unrealistic positions.

    "If this is true, which we are yet to learn, then chances to reach agreement on extending the deal before it expires in February 2021 still exist", Lavrov added.

    He stated that Russia is ready for further arms control negotiations with the United States but it is too early to say anything about specific parameters yet.

    "As for the possible further cooperation with the US in arms control, for which we are actually calling, any negotiations — if and when they start — will bring some tangible result only if the US side is ready to really take into consideration Russia's interests and concerns. This should be like what our US colleagues describe as a 'two-way street'", Lavrov said.

    Russia remains ready to make an effort toward "mutually acceptable agreements."

    "However, it would be premature to discuss specific parameters. At this stage, it is important that we have explained to the Americans our vision of the framework of potential agreements, which envisions work on a new 'safety formula' ... and includes all the important stability factors. This vision remains relevant", Lavrov added.

    The New START agreement was signed in 2010 by then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his US counterpart at the time, Barack Obama. It will lose force in February next year and its extension is being negotiated by Washington and Moscow.

    On Fate of Open Skies Treaty

    The foreign minister emphasised that Russia is ready to continue cooperation within the Open Skies Treaty only if all the other signatories of the deal confirm the commitment to abide by all of its provisions, and as this has not happened yet which leaves the fate of the deal in question.

    "If the remaining participants bow to the United States, it will not take us long to provide a harsh response. We are ready to continue cooperation within the Open Skies Treaty framework only if there is understanding that all the nations that remain in the treaty promptly provide us with direct and firm legal guarantees of their readiness to implement the requirements outlined in the deal. We have not yet received such guarantees, so, the further fate of the Open Skies Treaty is highly questionable", Lavrov said.

    The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 and became effective ten years later. It allows 34 participating countries to conduct unarmed observation flights over each other's territories.

    In May, US President Donald Trump declared that Washington was pulling out of the treaty and would not rejoin it "until they [Russia] adhere." The US completed the process of exiting the deal in late November.

    On New Team in the White House

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed hope that the new US administration will be committed to establishing a dialogue with Moscow, which serves the interests of the American people.

    "Of course, this would have positive influence on the general international affairs climate, taking into consideration Russia's and US' special responsibility of the two major nuclear powers and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council for the maintenance of global stability and security, especially in these tough times", the minister said.

    However, Russia does not hope for a quick stabilisation of the degrading relations with the United States, as anti-Russia hysteria is sweeping the country.

    "Unfortunately, one cannot count on quick rectification or even stabilisation of the degrading relations with the United States. The anti-Russia hysteria that has swept the US leaves little chance for us to see a return to normal relations soon. Our dialogue is hostage to the US' internal political strife, which certainly does not contribute to developing constructive cooperation", Lavrov said.

    At the same time, the minister expressed the belief that there is some untapped potential in relations with Washington, but the US should have political will to address the problems.

    "It will not be easy to dismantle the rubble that accumulated in recent years, not by our fault, but it is necessary to strive for it. However, political will of the US side is needed", Lavrov noted.

    The problems include keeping diplomatic missions functioning, humanitarian issues and strategic stability, the foreign minister specified.

    "It is not necessary to try to solve all the problems at once, we can cooperate being guided by the baby-step logic. We are ready for this work", Lavrov added.

    On Global Pandemic Response

    The global response to the coronavirus pandemic has been undermined by the West’s reluctance to cooperate constructively with other international powers, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Sputnik.

    "The international community has not yet united to effectively deal with common problems, such as the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. The main reason … is that a number of US-led Western countries are not ready to cooperate constructively and on an equal footing with other international players", he said.

    The Russian diplomat accused the West of actively using "an array of illegal tools," ranging from power politics to information warfare against its rivals, despite the global health emergency.

    "They ignored the calls made by the UN secretary general and the UN high commissioner for human rights in light of the global humanitarian emergency to suspend unilateral sanctions on medical supplies, equipment and food needed to fight the virus, as well as related financial transactions", Lavrov added.

    He criticised the unraveling of the global strategic stability architecture prompted by the United States’ exit from arms control treaties and the West’s refusal to back President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to introduce "green corridors" for trade in essential goods and medicine that would be free of trade wars and sanctions.

    Tags:
    US, Russia, Open Skies Treaty, New START, Sergei Lavrov
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