MOSCOW – The Kremlin on Friday welcomed the Biden government’s offer to renew a nuclear disarmament treaty due to expire next month and, as expected, signaled that, despite President Biden’s pledges to cooperate with the United States, Russia would work on nuclear safety working together wants to pursue a tougher line with Moscow than its predecessor.
The agreement was last updated in 2010 and limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads that either side can deploy. It does not limit the number of stored strategic weapons or smaller nuclear explosives that are intended for tactical use on a battlefield.
The Trump administration had refused to approve a five-year extension under a provision of the original treaty while attempting to extend the deal to China’s arsenal. That approach broke up when Beijing refused to negotiate.
Mr Biden has long been in favor of approving a simple extension of the existing treaty, as has the Kremlin.
“We can only welcome the political commitment to expand this document,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov told journalists on Friday in a conference call.
The treaty limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons the sides can use to 1,500 warheads each. This is symbolically important as the last disarmament treaty from the late Cold War era is still in force despite poor relations between Russia and the United States.
Other contracts fell by the wayside. The United States pulled out of a treaty banning nationwide missile defense systems under the Bush administration, citing new threats from Iran and North Korea.
In response, Russia withdrew from a treaty on conventional troop operations in Europe. The Trump administration, citing what betrayed Russia, pulled out of a treaty that banned medium-range missiles, weapons with short flight times that had made Cold War opponents hair-trigger for nuclear war.
Mr Biden requested a full five-year extension, the most available time under the treaty, in hopes of preventing a nuclear arms race while the United States anticipated continued low-level competition with Russia around the world to his adjutants.
“This expansion makes even more sense when the relationship with Russia is controversial, as it is at the time,” said Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, on Thursday.
The Biden government and the Kremlin have only two weeks to negotiate the extension before the contract expires on February 6. As a complication of the talks, Mr Biden has announced that he will take revenge on Russia for a major hacking operation last year that violated government and corporate computers in the United States.
Mr Biden is also expected to take a stronger position on Russia’s military interventions in Libya, Syria and Ukraine, as well as the poisoning and arrest of the country’s most prominent domestic opposition figure, Aleksei A. Navalny.
Mr Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said Russian officials would consider the Biden government’s offer before officially agreeing to an extension. He noted that Ms. Psaki had said the contract could be renewed without new terms.
“So far, this has not been the conversation,” said Peskov. “Certain renewal terms were proposed, some of which were absolutely not suited to us. So let’s first familiarize ourselves with what the Americans have to offer, ”before answering.