Kremlin says would welcome Biden's efforts to extend New START arms control treaty

FILE PHOTO: A Russian Yars intercontinental ballistic missile system drives during the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2020. The military parade, marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, was scheduled for May 9 but postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Host photo agency/Iliya Pitalev via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Wednesday it remained committed to extending the New START nuclear arms control treaty with the United States and would welcome efforts promised by the administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to reach agreement.

The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) accord, which was signed in 2010 and expires in February, limits the numbers of strategic nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers that Russia and the United States can deploy.

“Russia and its president are in favour of preserving this agreement,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. “If our American colleagues will in fact demonstrate a political will to preserve this pact by extending it, this can only be welcomed.”

Biden’s choice for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said on Tuesday that the incoming U.S. administration would seek to extend the pact and decide how long an extension to pursue.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last year called on Washington to extend the last major nuclear arms pact between the two countries for a year without any conditions.

A failure to extend New START could fuel a potential arms race and tensions between Moscow and Washington.

Reporting by Dmitry Antonov; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Catherine Evans