Former ambassador warns of the expiry of an important nuclear treaty with Russia, which might “put the US worse off”
The Biden government has urged the renewal of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia for five years, which expires on February 5. The nuclear deal regulates and limits how many nuclear weapons each country can have. Russian officials said Friday they welcomed the news.
Michael McFaul told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” that the expiry of New START with Russia would “put the US in a worse position”.
“We would lose our ability to review, look inward and look at the Russian nuclear arsenal,” said McFaul, who served as US ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014. “Do you remember Ronald Reagan always saying,” Trust but check? “I say don’t trust, just check, and the new START contract allows us to do that. I think it’s the right decision by the new Biden team to renew it.”
Joel Rubin is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, where he has worked with members of Congress on various national security issues, including nuclear safety. He agreed with McFaul and told The News with Shepard Smith that the deal would stabilize relations between the two nuclear powers.
“The Trump administration has tried to leverage the delay in the renewal of the treaty but has received nothing in return, which puts the entire treaty at risk,” said Rubin, who was also the policy director for Plowshares Fund, the country’s leading nuclear security company Foundation, endowment. “We need stability between the US and Russia, which together own more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. The renewal of New START will do that.”
Relations between Moscow and the US have been shaped by massive cyberattacks against federal authorities, interference in US elections and the recent arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexie Navalny. President Joe Biden will ask his Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, to review Russia’s interference in the 2020 election, according to the Washington Post.
McFaul told host Shepard Smith that he believes the reaction against Russia will likely be sanctions, but that the Biden administration has a choice when it comes to penalties against Russia.
“The simple thing is to sanction a number of unnamed colonels, FSB, the successor group to the KGB, and tick the box,” McFaul said. “The bolder move would be to sanction some of those who make the Putin regime possible, including some economic oligarchs who support Putin.”
Rubin added that the US should also work closely with European and Asian allies to pressure Russia to change and address its internal repression and aggressive international behavior, “rather than pushing them away and easing diplomatic pressure on Russia, like the Trump administration did. “”
McFaul told Smith he wasn’t sure President Joe Biden would want to spend the political capital to toughen up on Russia as the U.S. faces domestic political issues, including Covid and an economic crisis. McFaul added, however, that he believes Biden could do both.
“I think you could run and chew gum at the same time. I think you should be able to do both at the same time, but we’ll have to wait and see what they do,” McFaul said.
Rubin told The News with Shepard Smith that the time had come for the US to be “persistent” on Russia and President Vladimir Putin.
“We should not be afraid of Moscow, nor should we go to Moscow, nor should we expect that we can improve relations between the US and Russia through the diplomacy of children’s gloves,” said Rubin.