25 Dec 2010

New arms treaty passes first hurdle in Russia

1:31 pm on 25 December 2010

The lower house of the Russian parliament has given preliminary approval to the new START nuclear arms reduction treaty.

The vote was the first of three in the State Duma on ratifying the treaty, which cuts stocks of United States and Russian long-range and nuclear missiles.

Ratified by the American Senate earlier this week, it replaces the previous START treaty that lapsed at the end of last year.

Meanwhile, France has confirmed that Russia is to buy at least two French warships.

The Mistral-class assault vessels, which can carry up to 16 helicopters, will be the first such purchase by Russia from a NATO member country.

The deal has caused unease in other NATO countries, especially the United States, as well as some of Russia's immediate neighbours and the Baltic states.