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21 Jan, 2021 21:34

Biden hopes for 5-year extension of New START nuclear treaty… while seeking to demonize Russia for ‘hacking, meddling & bounties’

Biden hopes for 5-year extension of New START nuclear treaty… while seeking to demonize Russia for ‘hacking, meddling & bounties’

US President Joe Biden will seek to prolong the New START treaty with Russia by five years, his press secretary has said, before one of the last major arms control deals between the nuclear superpowers expires early next month.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed on Thursday that Biden would look to negotiate an extension of the deal before it runs out of time on February 5.

“The president has long been clear that the New START treaty is in the national security interest of the United States, and this extension makes even more sense when the relationship with Russia is adversarial, as it is at this time,” Psaki told reporters, calling the arms pact an “anchor of strategic stability” between the two countries.

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However, Psaki added that Biden would also pursue an intelligence assessment of what she dubbed “reckless and adversarial actions” by Moscow, citing alleged “bounties” paid to Afghan fighters, which have been repeatedly dismissed by the Pentagon and Moscow, among other things.

“Even as we work with Russia to advance US interests, so, too, we work to hold Russia to account for its reckless and adversarial actions,” she said.

And to this end the president is also issuing a tasking to the intelligence community for its full assessment of the Solar Winds cyber breach, Russian interference in the 2020 election, its use of chemical weapons against opposition leader (sic) Alexey Navalny and the alleged bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan.

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To date, little evidence has been marshalled to support the claims of election-meddling, with similar allegations going unsubstantiated for years during the Donald Trump administration. while the Solar Winds hack is believed to have originated in the United States, according to cyber security firm FireEye, which nonetheless pinned the breach on a “state actor.”

Moscow has also rubbished accusations that Navalny was poisoned on its orders, a claim also disputed by the doctors who treated the opposition figure in Siberia. Medics at the Charite clinic in Germany, however, say their tests showed signs of a chemical agent in Navalny’s system – although repeated requests by Russian officials for the test results and other medical data had gone unheeded by Berlin. He has since fully recovered from the alleged “assassination attempt” and returned to Russia, only to be detained for breaching terms of his probation, linked to a 2014 embezzlement case, and remanded in custody for 30 days, which Navalny blasted as a “fabricated” case.

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