Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) introduced legislation to counter Russian aggression on Wednesday.
The two lawmakers introduced the Stopping Russian Nuclear Aggression Act, which aims to limit Russia's nuclear arsenal. It would prevent funding to extend the New START Treaty until the United States can certify Russia has agreed to a process that verifies the reduction in their nuclear weapon stockpile.
"Under no circumstances should the United States agree to extend the New START Treaty beyond the current expiration in 2021 without drastic improvements to the deeply flawed deal negotiated by the Obama Administration. Over the past few years, we have seen Russia tout several new nuclear weapons delivery systems and it is unclear whether those systems will be bound by the limits of the treaty. Russia’s large stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons and belief that these weapons can be used as a part of an ‘escalate to de-escalate' strategy is also extremely concerning," Cheney said in a statement. "When these concerns are then viewed through the lens of Russia’s long-term violation of the INF Treaty, it is clear that extending the New START Treaty is not currently in the national security interest of the United States."
The Obama administration negotiated in 2010 a historic Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) treaty with Russia. The agreement was supposed to reduce the number of nuclear weapons held by the United States and Russia by a third. Over the course of the Obama administration, the Washington Free Beacon reported numerous violations of the treaty by Russia as early as 2012. The Free Beacon has also reported that President Donald Trump is leaning against extending the treaty, which expires in 2021, for another five years.
"Vladimir Putin has spent a decade cheating on existing treaties like the INF, building up his nuclear arsenal, and rewriting the rulebook on the nuclear triad by introducing new ways of launching a nuclear attack," Cotton said.
Back in October, Trump terminated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia.
"Russia’s heavy advantage in tactical nuclear weapons—which are not bound by the existing START agreement—restricts our ability to deter aggression against the U.S. and our allies. It’s clear the old START model isn’t going to cut it. This bill ensures all, not some, of Russia’s nuclear arsenal is on the table in the next round of negotiations," Cotton added.