Since the recent collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, the world has witnessed a hardening of positions on the part of the US, Moscow, and some European powers, also as the 'Open Skies' treaty is on the White House chopping block. And it goes without saying that these treaties are designed to prevent the kind of Cold War arms race which nearly took the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation, thus many analysts fear once removed there's no putting the lid of a major arms race back on. New START, which is the landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty signed by the two superpowers in 1991 and took effect in 1994, is set to expire in February 2021, which would be a mere weeks after the next presidential inauguration.
A little over a month ago the Russian Foreign Ministry declared of the potentially soon to be expired pact: "The ball is now in the Americans' court"; however, on Thursday Putin made a significant overture and is apparently holding out an open hand, lest this final major arms reduction treaty joints the dust bin of history like the INF.
“Russia is ready to immediately, as soon as possible, before the end of the year, extend the New START treaty without any preconditions, so that there would be no double, triple interpretation of our position later. I’m saying this officially,” the Russian president pointed declared according to Interfax.
Addressing a Russian defense meeting, he explained further that he hopes to avoid a new arms race with the United States, and vowed to in good faith refrain from deploying intermediate and shorter range missiles there where there are none.
"Russia is not interested in triggering an arms race or deploying missiles where there are none," Putin said. He also invited the US and European countries to join a Russian proposed moratorium on such new deployments and weapons. So far only France has greeted the proposal positively. Indicating the offer is conditional, he warned, "No reaction from other partners followed. This forces us to take measures to resist the aforesaid threats."
He also took Washington to task for prematurely quitting the INF while attempting to falsely place blame on Russia for being in violation for years. "There is nothing to support this stance. Nevertheless, such attempts are being made," he concluded, in statements reported by TASS.
Some analysts in the West agree with him. As The American Conservative's Daniel Larison recently observed, "Refusing to renew the treaty is the same as killing it, and the US will be to blame for the collapse of the last limits on the biggest nuclear arsenals on earth."