New Start: US and Russia extend nuclear arms treaty

The US and Russia have extended the New Start treaty until 2026. The treaty places limits on the nuclear arsenals of the two countries, which own around 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons. US President Joe Biden described the treaty as an "anchor of strategic stability". Europe's press also welcomes the agreement - but not without certain reservations.

Open/close all quotes
Keskisuomalainen (FI) /

Wise for many reasons

For Keskisuomalainen the importance of New Start can hardly be overstated:

“Donald Trump was keen to free his country from the international system of rules and agreements. The New Start Treaty would have expired on Friday of next week. After that, nuclear armament would have been unregulated for the first time in half a century. ... The disarmament agreement has proven its value as a monitoring mechanism - transparency is increasing and the risk of unintentionally sparking a war through mistakes is decreasing. What's more, the purchase of arms is extremely expensive and could accelerate without an agreement. Both Washington and Moscow have now realised that it makes sense to extend the nuclear weapons agreement at a time when relations between the major powers are not good anyway.”

Sme (SK) /

Include China

The extension of the treaty is only partially positive, Sme says:

“Biden's predecessor Trump had two serious reasons for not extending the agreement. First, violations by the Kremlin. Second, Trump wanted to include China in the pact. Beijing is expanding its nuclear arsenal, which has already become a major security risk from US's perspective. Trump's arguments were legitimate and fully justified his acting as he did. The idea that he was just pathologically obsessed with tearing up contracts is nonsense.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Other deals more important

Both sides benefit from the extension, the Süddeutsche Zeitung explains:

“This gives the US, and thus the new Biden administration, valuable time to set the course for its arms policies for the next few years. As for Russia, although it is modernising its nuclear arsenal, it can't afford an impending arms escalation without defined upper limits in these difficult times. Extending New Start, however, is not a real new start. Above all, a new INF treaty on medium-range missiles would make life in Europe safer. That, however, is currently out of reach.”

Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

Too early to celebrate

With or without the New Start treaty, Biden will be more confrontational with Russia than his predecessor, comments political scientist Gerhard Mangott in the Wiener Zeitung:

“The agreement is the exception, it won't be the rule. ... The emphasis on democracy and human rights and the promotion of democracy will be much stronger under Biden than it was under Donald Trump. The new US administration is already voicing fierce criticism of the human rights situation in Russia. ... Biden will also strengthen transatlantic relations and urge Nato and the EU to coordinate their Russia policy, with the first issue being new sanctions against Russia. ... So the signs point more in the direction of confrontation than cooperation.”