Putin Warns "Unrestrained Arms Race" Coming - Ready "At Any Moment" To Extend New START

Russia's President Putin has again issued an urgent warning related to the upcoming expiration of Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, New START, set to expire in early 2021. The appeals from Moscow for Washington to enter talks "without precondition" for its extension have become more frequent of late, perhaps also realizing the February 2021 deadline would be a mere weeks after the next presidential inauguration — at that point it would most certainly be too late and the political climate in the US more unpredictable.

Putin emphasized at his annual year-end news conference on Thursday in Moscow that his country is ready immediately to extend the ten year arms reduction treaty, noting his willingness to enter a deal as fast as by the end of the year. The 'alternative' would be a dangerous new unfettered arms race between the two big powers, he explained.

"They can send us the [agreement] tomorrow, or we can sign and send it to Washington," he said. "Let their designated official sign it too, including the president, if they’re ready to do so."

File image via FP/Getty

“So far there’s been no answer to our proposals,” Putin added. “And if the New START treaty doesn’t exist anymore, there will be nothing in the world to curb the arms race. And that, in my view, would be bad.”

The comments came while more broadly addressing continued deteriorating relations with the United States, especially within the context of Democrats' impeachment move against Trump. 

“It’s unlikely they will want to remove from power a representative of their party based on what are, in my opinion, completely fabricated reasons,” said Putin.

“They first accused Trump of a conspiracy with Russia. Then it turned out there wasn’t a conspiracy and that it couldn’t be the basis for impeachment. Now they have dreamt up (the idea) of some kind of pressure being exerted on Ukraine.”

Thursday's year-end press conference, via TASS.

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." This was followed by early December statements of Putin saying, "Russia is not interested in triggering an arms race or deploying missiles where there are none." 

At that time he invited the US and European countries to join a Russian proposed moratorium on such new deployments and weapons in Europe, apparently still on the table according to the latest remarks. 

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."