Russia dismissed claims from the Trump administration that Moscow and Washington had reached an agreement on extending a top arms control agreement, saying it was unlikely any deal would be reached prior to the November election.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Rybakov specifically pushed back on claims from administration officials that the U.S. would extend the New START Treaty for an undetermined period of time if Russia froze its nuclear arsenal.
“The US position in favor of putting a freeze [on the nuclear arsenal] has long been known to us, it is unacceptable to us. Not because we are against freezing, but because we need to deal with the problems of strategic stability as a complex,” Rybakov told state run news agency RIA Novosti, according to CNN.
“If the Americans need to report to their superiors something about allegedly reaching an agreement with the Russian Federation before their elections, then they will not get it,” he added.
The rebuke comes after U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea said on Tuesday that a “gentleman’s agreement” had been reached at the “highest levels.”
“I’m hopeful that that sort of gentlemen’s agreement, that arrangement, that deal that has been reached, as I said, at the highest levels will ultimately need to percolate down through their system so that my counterpart hopefully will be authorized to negotiate,” he said in remarks at the Heritage Foundation Tuesday.
The spat over extending the pact could hinder President Trump’s reported goal of scoring an 11th hour nuclear arms deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the Nov. 3 election. The administration had initially opposed extending the deal in favor of creating a new multilateral agreement with Russia and China, but Beijing has shot down efforts to form new agreement.