The meeting’s agenda included the dialogue between Russia and the United States on the New START. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov briefed the participants on this topic.
The participants also exchanged views on the ongoing developments in the conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh.
The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov, and Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Before we get to the main item on today’s agenda, I would like to ask Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov whether there has been any progress in the dialogue with the United States to extend one of the central documents in terms of international security and arms control. I am referring to the New START, the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.
Where are we in the talks with the Americans?
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: Mr President,
In keeping with your instructions, we remain quite proactive in our contacts with our American colleagues on strategic stability matters in all their aspects, including by emphasising our initiative to take a decision without delay to extend the New START, set to expire in February 2021, for a new five-year term without any preconditions. This initiative remains on the table.
In the meantime, we confirm that we will be ready to continue working on new agreements, and that we have submitted, with your consent, clear proposals in furtherance of the comprehensive approach to strategic stability, which have been forwarded to the US side. In reply, the United States has sent us its proposals, which have been presented as conditions, or rather preconditions for the extension of the New START. Moreover, these preconditions are rather numerous and have been formulated both outside the Treaty itself and outside our frame of reference.
To a certain extent, a critical situation has taken shape, because in February, as I said, in early February, the Treaty will expire. If there is no consent from both sides, in keeping with the Treaty’s procedures on its extension, it will cease to exist. This means, in effect, that to all intents and purposes the work on the Treaty extension proper, without the conditions that it does not contain, has not yet started.
Vladimir Putin: What is the exact expiry date for this Treaty?
Sergei Lavrov: February 4, 2021.
Vladimir Putin: Does this mean that we face a full-sized threat to be left, and in general leave the world, without this Treaty?
Sergei Lavrov: And, in general, without any other instrument that would ensure at least some joint approaches to maintaining strategic stability. The rest has been either pulled out or suggested by the Americans for termination.
Vladimir Putin: It would be extremely sad, if this Treaty ceased to exist and was not replaced by another fundamental document of this kind. During all the previous years, the New START worked and worked properly, performing its fundamental role as a constraint curtailing the arms race and a tool of arms control. It is clear that we have new weapons systems that the American side lacks, at least for the time being. But we are not refusing to discuss this aspect of the matter as well.
In this regard, I have a proposal, namely, to extend the Treaty now in effect unconditionally for at least a year in order to have a chance to hold substantive talks on all the parameters of problems that are regulated by treaties of this kind, lest we leave our countries and all nations of the world with a vested interest in maintaining strategic stability without such a fundamental document as the Strategic Offensive Arms Limitation Treaty.
Please, formulate our position to the US partners and try to obtain at least some comprehensible reply from them as soon as possible.
Sergei Lavrov: We will do it as soon as we can, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
Let us go over to a discussion of current matters.