The United States’ continued attempts to exert pressure on Russia during arms control talks through the issuing of ultimatums raises questions of Washington’s desire to negotiate with Moscow, Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Russian upper house’s foreign affairs committee, told Sputnik on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, US Special Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea said in an interview with the Russian newspaper Kommersant that the New START treaty, the only remaining arms control agreement between Washington and Moscow, would not be extended unless an arms control memorandum was agreed between the two countries first.
“The approach of setting ultimatums is alarming, saying that it is ‘our way or not at all.’ This is hardly the easiest path to achieving the desired result, or it means that the desired result for the Americans is not to reach a stable and mutually accepted agreement,” Kosachev remarked.
These sentiments were shared by Oleg Morozov, a member of the Russian upper house’s foreign affairs committee, who told Sputnik that setting ultimatums was entirely unproductive.
“We are interested in control over strategic nuclear weapons, but talking to us in the language of ultimatums is extremely unproductive,” Morozov remarked.
In his interview with Kommersant, Billingslea stated that the US had already made a good offer to Russia on the topic of arms control, adding that Moscow could expect to receive worse terms if current US President Donald Trump is re-elected on November 3.
“Even if we imagine that the proposal has potential and is a reasonable start, the form it has taken is outrageous. They would not do that if they wanted to get a real result,” Morozov commented.
The New START treaty is scheduled to expire on February 5. Negotiations on its extension are ongoing, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed extending the agreement by five years with no pre-conditions.
US negotiators have insisted that China be included in any future deal, although Beijing has expressed its unwillingness to participate.