This is an important milestone - parties to the START Treaty (and these include Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in addition to Russia and the United States) actually held a meeting to consider whether the treaty will be extended. The treaty does not require any decision to be made at this point, but to keep the extension option open the meeting had to take place. Here is what the Article XVII.2 of the treaty says:
No later than one year before the expiration of the 15-year period, the Parties shall meet to consider whether this Treaty will be extended.
In accordance with Paragraph 2 of Article XVII of the Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START), on November 17, 2008, Representatives of the United States of America, The Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine met in Geneva, Switzerland to consider whether to extend the 1991 Treaty.
Therefore, the requirement of the Treaty to meet on the issue prior to December 5, 2008, is fulfilled. However, the Parties desire to point out that there was no Treaty requirement to make a decision to extend the Treaty at this meeting.
The United States of America, The Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine will continue to consider the issue and note that a decision on this issue can be made up until the date of expiration of the Treaty on December 5, 2009.
Although the conventional wisdom these days is that neither Russia nor the United States is interested in extending START and doing so would be the option of last resort, I actually think that extending START would be exactly the right thing to do. Keeping START counting rules would be especially important.