The last Soviet leader expresses hope for a possible extension of the new START treaty, but warns that much remains to be done in the US-Russian arms control efforts.
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, has said he expects US President-elect Joe Biden to extend the last major nuclear arms control treaty between Moscow and Washington when it expires next month, but that both countries have a lot more to do. .
In an interview with Russian news agency RIA published on Monday, Gorbachev, 89, said he was counting on Biden, whom he said he had met on several occasions, to extend the new START treaty.
The pact limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads, deployed missiles, and heavy bombers that the world’s two greatest nuclear powers can possess and is widely regarded as the cornerstone of global arms control.
“During the election campaign, [Biden] says the treaty must be extended, ”Gorbachev said. “But I think that’s just the first step. We have to agree on further reductions. We need to discuss and adjust military doctrines. “
Gorbachev, whose arms control push of the 1980s and democratic reforms helped end the Cold War, is still listened to by some in the Kremlin because of his vast experience in managing relations with Washington.
Biden, who will succeed Donald Trump as President of the United States on Jan.20, has said he supports the extension of New START, which expires on Feb.5, although it is not known how long a extension could last.
Russia offered to renew the new START from one to five years without new conditions, which Washington was keen to attach.
Under Trump, Washington formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, accusing Moscow of violating it, which Moscow has denied.
Washington also withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty in November last year, an arms control and verification agreement.
Gorbachev, who called for political will and dialogue, said he hoped the Biden administration would endorse a pledge the two sides made at a Soviet-era summit in 1985.
This declaration said that any nuclear war was unacceptable, could not have a winner, and that neither side would try to gain military superiority.
“Russia recently proposed that the Americans confirm this formula,” Gorbachev said. “Now a new administration will come and it would be good to renew our proposal.”
Gorbachev also said the United States and Russia should try to involve other nuclear-weapon countries in arms control negotiations in time.