The issue of the extension of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, also known as the New START, remains “a gamble”, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said at the ninth annual Transatlantic Forum on Russia.
"The Russian Federation is certainly making a calculation based on whether they want to lock into agreement with an extension now or wait until after January 20 to see if there is a better offer that they can possibly acquire", Biegun said. "I think that’s still a little bit of a gamble, perhaps less so than... it might have been two weeks ago, but that’s very much for the Russian Federation to agree".
Biegun said he is prepared to sit down with his Russian counterparts to explore possible areas of agreement, noting that Washington would like to find a way forward with Russia.
"I do think there is some desire, here in the United States, to find and open a way forward to explore areas of cooperation between the United States and Russia, to get past the very low point that we find ourselves at in the post-Cold War relationship", Biegun said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested in October extending the New START treaty without any preconditions, noting that a world without any accord regulating arms would represent a full-blown threat.
However, soon after the proposal was voiced, US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said that without freezing nuclear warheads such an extension would be a non-starter.
The New START, signed in 2010, is the only currently valid Russian-US arms reduction deal. The treaty expires in 2021 and the United States remains undecided on whether to extend it or not, while Russia has repeatedly stressed that it is ready for dialogue.