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Russian interests 'unaffected' by new arms deal with U.S.

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, February 24 (RIA Novosti) - A new Russian-U.S. arms control treaty will not impair Russia's defense capability, a top Russian military official said Wednesday.

"The treaty will soon be ready and it will not harm Russian interests," said Gen. Nikolai Makarov, chief of the General Staff, in an interview with satellite TV channel Russia Today.

He said that the ongoing talks were tough and moving slowly but "we have reached an understanding that the parties should take each other's interests into account."

He did not indicate exactly when the draft would be ready or when a new treaty could be ratified, but earlier in the day, a senior Russian lawmaker suggested the Russian parliament is unlikely to ratify a strategic arms reduction deal that does not include a link to missile defenses.

Officials have said an agreement between Russia and the United States to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expired on December 5 last year, is nearly ready and could be struck in the next two or three weeks.

The Russian and U.S. presidents, Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama, made replacing START 1, the cornerstone of post-Cold War arms control, part of their broader efforts to "reset" bilateral ties strained in recent years.

Russia, which views U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile defense system in Europe as a direct threat to its security, has said further cuts in offensive nuclear weapons would not be practical if the sides did not put limits on nuclear defense projects, which could create an atmosphere of distrust.

Washington says the missile shield is needed to guard against potential Iranian strikes and would pose no threat to Russia, but in a clear move to ease Moscow's concerns, Obama last year scrapped plans to deploy interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic.

Earlier this month, however, Romania and Bulgaria said they were in talks with Obama's administration on deploying elements of the U.S. missile shield on their territories from 2015.

The new treaty's outline, as agreed on by the Russian and U.S. leaders, includes slashing nuclear arsenals to 1,500-1,675 warheads and delivery vehicles to 500-1,000.

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