Leonid Slutsky, head of the Russian Foreign Affairs Committee, said Mr Putin’s proposal would relieve pressure on the deal before the deal expires and split arms talks on US election policy.
The Trump administration has agreed to a five-year extension without change, an option that would not require Senate approval. Mr Trump finds this unacceptable, as the treaty signed by President Obama does not apply to all Russian or Chinese nuclear weapons.
However, China has refused to join any revised version of the New Start, arguing that its nuclear arsenal is insignificant compared to the US or Russia.
In an effort to save the New Start, Russia has shown little interest in giving President Trump a foreign policy victory ahead of the United States presidential election, which is less than three weeks away, and may indicate that it expects Mr. Biden to win. This week, senior Russian officials disregarded claims by Mr. Trump’s chief negotiator, Marshall Billingsley, about a “principled agreement at the highest levels of our two governments to extend the agreement.”
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Alexandrovich Ryabkov took it as a fantasy. “Washington is describing what is desired, not what is real,” said Ryabkov, Russia’s chief negotiator.
However, Russia’s open mockery of the alleged deal has led Moscow to look favored and risk compromising Mr Putin’s long-standing efforts to portray his country as deeply committed to arms control – unlike the United States, which has moved away from a number of past arrangements.
Mr Putin’s proposal on Friday, said Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center and a veteran foreign policy analyst, offered to try to fix any damage to Russia’s image from this week’s controversy than a proposal with a real chance of being accepted.