Russian President Vladimir Putin and his defense ministry have both said they're open to extending the New START Treaty with the United States. Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo
July 17 (UPI) -- The Russian Defense Ministry on Tuesday said it wants to increase cooperation with the United States to extend a nuclear arms treaty set to expire in 2021.
Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told state-run Russian news agency Tass his country wants to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty -- or New START. U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the agreement in April 2010, which reduced the nuclear weapons each country will deploy and included a verification regime.
"The Russian Defense Ministry is ready to enliven contact with the U.S. colleagues, between our general staffs and via other communication channels, to discuss extension of the START Treaty, cooperation in Syria and other topical issues of military security," Konashenkov said Tuesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told Fox News on Monday he expressed this desire during his Helsinki meeting with President Donald Trump.
"I reassured President Trump that Russia stands ready to extend this treaty, to prolong it, but we have to agree on the specifics at first because we have some questions to our American partners," he said. "We think that they are not fully compliant with the treaty, but this is for experts to decide."
The New START Treaty calls for each country to cap weapons at 1,500 developed weapons, 700 deployed missiles, and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers.
During his state of the union address in March, Putin said that despite the treaty, the Unites States is "permitting constant, uncontrolled growth of the number of anti-ballistic missiles, improving their quality, and creating new missile launching areas."
"If we do not do something, eventually this will result in the complete devaluation of Russia's nuclear potential," he said. "Despite our numerous protests and pleas, the American machine has been set into motion, the conveyer belt is moving forward."
Putin said Russia's response to the challenge presented by the United States is making new models of strategic weapons.