Russian parliament approves extension of nuclear pact with US

Russian lawmakers quickly approved the extension of the last remaining nuclear Russia-US arms control, a fast-track action that comes just days before it’s due to expire.

Both houses of parliament vote unanimously to extend the New START treaty for five years, a day after a phone call between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin says they agreed to complete the necessary extension procedures in the next few days.

The pact’s extension doesn’t require congressional approval in the US, but Russian lawmakers must ratify the move and Putin has to sign the relevant bill into law.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov tells lawmakers that the extension will be validated by exchanging diplomatic notes once all the procedures are completed.

Then US Vice President Joe Biden, left, shakes hands with then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, March 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

Upper house Speaker Valentina Matvienko says after the vote that the decision to extend the pact shows that Russia and the US can reach agreements on major issues despite the tensions between them.

New START expires on February 5. After taking office last week, Biden proposed extending the treaty for five years, and the Kremlin quickly welcomed the offer.

The treaty, signed in 2010 by US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance.

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