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Russia says seeks to retain New START nuclear treaty with US

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Russia says it seeks to preserve its last remaining nuclear arms control treaty with the United States, despite Washington's "destructive" approach towards arms control.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the remarks to reporters on Wednesday concerning the New START agreement, which is set to expire in three years without a replacement.

"We believe that the continuation of this treaty is very important," he said.

Peskov, though, denounced the US for "actually destroying the legal framework in the field of arms control and security."

Last year, Russia stopped allowing American inspectors onto its military sites, responding to travel restrictions imposed by the US on Russian inspectors in reaction to the initiation of a military operation by Moscow in Ukraine.

START I expired in late 2009 and its replacement, the New START or START III, was signed in April 2010 by then US President Barack Obama and then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, under which both sides agreed to halve the number of strategic nuclear missiles and restrict the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, the lowest level in decades.

The New START agreement was extended in February 2021 until February 4, 2026, by US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Also on Wednesday, Russia's ambassador to the United States said Moscow had been "irreproachably observing" the accord and would continue to do so.

"Responsibility for the escalation of the New START issues lies entirely with Washington," ambassador Anatoly Antonov said in a statement on the Embassy's Facebook page.

Adding to his remarks, however, Peskov said it was necessary to preserve at least some "hints" of continued dialog with Washington, "no matter how sad the situation is at the present time," calling the New START the only deal that remained "at least hypothetically viable."

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