Russian President Dmitri Medvedev [Guardian profile; JURIST news archive] on Friday signed into law a bill that ratifies the New Start treaty [materials, PDF; JURIST news archive], an agreement between Russia and the US intended to reduce nuclear arms in both countries. The Russian Federation Council on Wednesday voted to ratify the treaty [JURIST report]. The upper house of Russia's parliament unanimously supported the measure, which calls for each country to reduce its nuclear arsenal by about 30 percent. Under the new treaty, each country will be allowed to have 1,550 warheads as opposed to the 2,200 allowed under the old Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty [materials] that expired in December 2009. Council-member Viktor Evtukhov [official profile, in Russian] praised [press release, in Russian] the ratification of the treaty stating,
The conclusion of the START treaty is clearly the achievement of national policy. First, the ratification of the treaty will have a positive impact in all areas of bilateral cooperation the signing of START-3 completely draws a line under the Cold War. Secondly, the New START treaty fully meets the interests of Russia, who chose a less costly and more rational approach.Russia included non-binding language in its ratification [AP report] disapproving of US plans to build a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said that the treaty will not affect Russian plans [RIA Novosti report] to build a missile defense system. The US and Russia are expected to hold a formal ceremony [Reuters report] marking the treaty's ratification next month.
Russia's lower house originally approved the treaty [JURIST report] in December. Earlier that month, the US Senate voted 71-26 [JURIST report] to ratify the treaty. US President Barack Obama and Medvedev signed the treaty [JURIST report] in Prague in April. The agreement, reached [JURIST report] last February, is the first nuclear agreement between the two nations in nearly 20 years. The US State Department began negotiating [JURIST report] the treaty with Russia in 2009. Nuclear disarmament between the US and Russia, whose nuclear arsenals comprise 95 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, languished during the Bush administration. The treaty is considered a key part of easing tensions between the two countries, which reached a high point after the 2008 Georgia conflict [BBC backgrounder].