Russian President Vladimir Putin presented a bill to parliament on Tuesday to extend an important nuclear pact with the United States by five years, which is due to expire next week.
The new START treaty, signed in 2010, limits the number of nuclear warheads that Moscow and Washington, which control the world‘s largest nuclear arsenals, can use to 1,550.
Putin’s bill appeared on the House of Commons State Duma website on Tuesday evening.
“On January 26, 2021, Russia and the United States reached an agreement on the extension of the treaty,” said a statement of reasons for the bill published on the website of the Lower House State Duma.
The two sides had “agreed in principle” to extend New START by five years.
The state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Leonid Slutsky, foreign minister in the lower house, as saying that the State Duma could examine the bill on Wednesday.
The legislation was released after Putin and new US President Joe Biden made their first phone call on Tuesday evening.
Following the call, the Kremlin issued a statement saying that the two leaders had expressed “satisfaction” with the extension talks.
“In the coming days” both sides will “ensure the continued functioning of this important international legal mechanism for the mutual limitation of nuclear arsenals”.
In its own reading of the appeal, the White House said Biden and Putin had agreed “their teams will work urgently to complete the renewal by February 5” when the nuclear pact expires.
New START is the last remaining arms reduction pact between the former Cold War rivals.
The deal was signed by then-US President Barack Obama and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and was seen as a key component of Obama’s efforts to “reset” relations with the Kremlin.
Negotiations to renew the treaty had stalled during former US President Donald Trump’s tenure, and his administration insisted that China join the deal, despite Beijing flatly rejecting the idea.
Under Trump, Washington withdrew from two major international agreements – the Iranian nuclear deal and the Open Skies treaty – and withdrew from a central arms control pact with Russia, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who brokered the 1987 INF treaty with US President Ronald Reagan, called on both countries to extend New START and work together to agree further cuts in nuclear supplies.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)