It is the only nuclear disarmament treaty of significance, who is the destructive work of Donald Trump has survived. A few days after leaving office, the new US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin extended the New Start Treaty by five years. That sounds a bit like it, as if we could all sit back and sigh “Trump gone – all is well”. Unfortunately not. The American-Russian agreement is a breathing space, because the contract on 5. February would have expired irrevocably. But unfortunately it doesn't let us breathe a sigh of relief. More on that below.
This is why the extension of New Start is so important, because at least that arms limitation treaty will be saved, the US President Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, the placeholder for Putin in the presidential office at the time, 2010 signed in Prague. The agreement achieved three things: First, the number of delivery systems for strategic nuclear weapons was reduced to each 800 limited. Secondly, the number of operational warheads has since been allowed to increase 1.550 no longer exceed. And the total number of nuclear-capable missiles and bombers was at 700 frozen. There are also monitoring and verification measures, to be able to take a look at the other one too, whether he sticks to the contract. This will now continue for another five years, and that wasn't easy at all.
Because Donald Trump has them Logic of arms control treaties not understood, over the generations of presidents and general secretaries in Washington and Moscow 1972 always agreed: that security for others also means security for yourself. Trump and his negotiator Marshall Billingslea assumed this, that Russia absolutely need the contract, because Moscow lacks money, But the USA didn't need the treaty at all. That's why Billingslea set all possible conditions in the negotiations, among other things, that China and its missiles must be part of the treaty. At one point, to the surprise of the Russians, he had the negotiating room draped with Chinese flags, to say, There is still someone missing at the table.
Trump would have sacrificed this arms control treaty like others for such histrionics. Biden has now immediately ended the nonsense and extended it, because he knows: Both sides need this contract and the time, to negotiate another one.
Because it is far too early to breathe a sigh of relief. Americans and Russians will have to come to an agreement on this over the next five years, in which areas they want to expand arms control. Too much has been broken in recent years. Die USA overturned the ban on missile defense systems, Russia had that INF Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty Broken, before Trump canceled it.
In recent years, both sides have developed or manufactured new nuclear weapons, which are not covered by New Start at all. Because this treaty only affects strategic intercontinental weapons, with which Russia and the USA can attack each other directly from continent to continent. Missiles and bombers, that aim at the opponent over shorter distances, have completely fallen out of the international arms control regime.
This is particularly a problem for Europeans, who are confronted with new nuclear missiles from Russia. Die NATO is alarmed by new Russian 9M729 cruise missiles, who are stationed in the European part of Russia. NATO does not have anything directly to counter such weapons stationed on land. The US could respond with bombers or sea-based missiles, which are also not or only partially covered by New Start.
So that these devilish weapons are never used, The USA and Russia must agree on a massive expansion of New Start in the coming years. And that requires far more willingness to compromise, than is currently visible.