The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Russia had not clinched a deal with the United States to extend the New START arms pact, the last major nuclear treaty between the two countries, despite U.S. assertions suggesting significant progress, Reuters reported.
The New START accord, signed in 2010, limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads that Russia and the United States can deploy. It expires in February next year.
U.S. officials have indicated on social media that an agreement to extend it has been reached in principle.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that no deal had yet been reached despite what the Kremlin hoped was a joint understanding that the pact did need to be extended.
“As for the understanding for the need to extent the START treaty, we hope we are on the same track in this regard,” Peskov said on a conference call with reporters. “We understand that it needs to be extended, that this is in the interest of our two countries and the strategic security of the whole world.”
Speaking earlier on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow did not see prospects for extending the new START arms control treaty with Washington but planned to continue talks nonetheless.
Failure to extend the pact would remove the main pillar maintaining the balance of nuclear arms between Moscow and Washington, adding another element of tension to their already fraught relationship.
New START is a successor to the original Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) signed in 1991 between the then-Soviet Union and the United States.
Arms deals between President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s, and their successors George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s, underscored growing trust between the superpowers and contributed to ending the Cold War.