"If the deal is not extended, we will find effective ways to protect ourselves. We are certainly interested in extending the treaty, as we see it as a key element of strategic stability. We tell our US colleagues that the failure to extend it would be a great mistake," Nebenzia pledged, Sputnik reported.
Russia's UN envoy expressed the belief that Washington's intention to dismantle the entire system of arms control agreements (the country withdrew from the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year, accusing Russia of violating the bilateral deal) could be explained by its desire to use force absolutely freely.
"This is only a part of the global problem consisting in destruction of the arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation [ADN] regimes in force. Unfortunately, we are getting more and more evidence that the US attempts to dismantle the system of relevant agreements in fact hides its desire to secure full discretion for power projection and use of force," Nebenzia added.
Russia keeps actively opposing these attempts, including within the UN, and remains open to a constructive dialogue aimed at maintaining and strengthening the global security architecture, the high-ranking official assured.
"For example, last year, the UN General Assembly [UNGA] adopted a resolution, which we initiated, in support of strengthening and developing the system of valid ADN agreements almost unanimously. It calls on UN member states to fully and strictly abide by the treaties in force, and to support their integrity," Nebenzia announced.
Russia's envoy to the international organisation expressed hope that Russia's approach would be supported unanimously at this year's UNGA session as well, noting that global demand for support to arms control deals was now "higher than ever".
US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea told Russian newspaper Kommersant that the New START, which is the only remaining Russian-US arms control deal in force, will not be extended if Washington and Moscow fail to conclude a relevant presidential memorandum by February.
If Russia opposes the memorandum, the US will be happy to keep modernising its nuclear arsenal without limitations imposed by the New START, Billingslea also noted.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited the US to extend the crucial arms control deal, which expires in February, by five years with no preliminary conditions. Meanwhile, the US administration keeps insisting on getting China involved in the talks in a bid to secure a new trilateral nuclear agreement.