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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S., Russia at Loggerheads Over Name of Arms Treaty

The Kremlin and the White House cannot agree on what to call the treaty that is the crowning achievement of the week's summit.

Agreed on just weeks ago, the pact requires both nations to reduce their arsenals of active nuclear weapons by roughly two-thirds. But with the hard work out of the way, the sides are at a curious loggerheads over what to call it. The United States says it will be known as the "Treaty Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Strategic Offensive Reductions." Russia, on the other hand, will call it the "Agreement on the Reduction of Strategic Offensive Potentials."

A senior U.S. official said the differences sprouted both from linguistics and arms-control politics. Linguistically speaking, he said, a Russian translation of the words "strategic offensive reductions" demands a final noun; otherwise, what is being reduced is a mystery.

The Russians suggested tacking on the word "arms." But the Americans said that mirrored the acronym START, for Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

"So we went round and round, and eventually the Russians decided on 'strategic offensive potential,'" the senior official said. "Both languages are equally valid," he added, diplomatically. "But I think the stupid thing ought to be called the Treaty of Moscow."