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12 Jul, 2020 13:35

US-Russian relations 'remain at almost-rock bottom:' Unbefitting of leading nuclear powers – Kremlin

US-Russian relations 'remain at almost-rock bottom:' Unbefitting of leading nuclear powers – Kremlin

The "terrible" state of relations between the US and Russia is not what other nations expect from the two countries with the world's biggest nuclear arsenals, President Putin's spokesman has said.

"Our relationship remains at almost-rock bottom. The situation is terrible both in bilateral aspects and in terms of our responsibility for multilateral affairs, first of all, in arms control and strategic stability," Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with Russian TV.

He noted that "shy" expert contacts between the two nations have been failing to preserve strategic arms control agreements, like the now-defunct Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which was scrapped on Washington's call last year.

The US has been working on dismantling arms control mechanisms for years. The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was scrapped under George W. Bush, purportedly to protect the US and its allies from possible attacks by Iran and North Korea.

The INF was axed after the US accused Russia of failing to meet its obligations under the pact. Moscow denied these allegations and said they were simply being used as a pretext to shift responsibility for an escalatory move, which the US didn't want to appear responsible for.

Also on rt.com ‘Shifting responsibilities’: Moscow blasts US report accusing Russia of nuclear violations but admitting there’s no proof

Washington claimed that the treaties it has with Russia stopped it from fully competing with China, a nation that is not beholden to those agreements and is seen as a strategic rival by US authorities.

Peskov pointed out that Beijing could not be compared to either Russia or the US in terms of nuclear strength.

"Our two nations hold the biggest nuclear arsenals. No other country, including China, which the Americans are pushing hard to enter [arms control] negotiations, [can compare]," he said.

The New START agreement is the last major bilateral treaty restricting Russian and US nuclear forces, limiting each nation to 1,550 operationally deployed nuclear warheads, though thousands more remain stockpiled by each nation. By contrast, China is estimated to have 320 nuclear warheads in total, according to the latest yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The US-Russian treaty is due to expire next February unless the two parties agree to extend it. Moscow has repeatedly voiced concerns that Washington appears willing to let the agreement lapse.

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