Russia sets out terms for return to key nuclear treaty
Russia will return to full compliance with the New START treaty only if Washington abandons its hostile policy towards Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has stated.
On Thursday, the US State Department announced a set of “countermeasures” in response to what it called “a legally invalid” decision made by Russia in February to suspend its participation in what was the last remaining nuclear agreement between the two countries.
Washington said it had stopped providing Moscow with the status and locations of its nuclear missiles and launchers from June 1, as well as telemetry data on the launch of US intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Visas have been revoked for Russian inspectors who were supposed to carry out checks in line with New START, it added.
The move didn’t come as a surprise to the Russian side, as the US had notified Moscow about it in advance, Ryabkov told journalists on Saturday.
However, this notification was made in a manner that has become “common” for Washington in recent years and implied that Russia needed to make certain concessions in order to avoid those countermeasures, he said.
“It’s obvious that talking to Russia in the language of ultimatums won’t work,” the diplomat asserted.
Moscow will stick by its decision on New START regardless of any actions taken by Washington, he said.
“Our own condition for the return to the full functioning of the treaty is the US abandoning its fundamentally hostile policy towards Russia,” Ryabkov insisted.
The deputy foreign minister also said Moscow had noticed Washington’s intent – “at least in words” – to continue sharing data with Russia in line with 1988 bilateral agreement on the exchange of notifications on ballistic missile launches. Russia had earlier said that it’s also going to share data in accordance with this deal.
“A certain transparency and predictability remain in this area and this should allow us to avoid further dangerous escalations,” Ryabkov said.
New START limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads deployed by Russia and the US to 1,550. It also confines the two nations to 800 deployed and non-deployed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and nuclear-capable heavy bombers, as well as to 700 ICBMs, SLBMs and strategic bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments.
Explaining the decision to suspend the treaty, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the 2010 deal had been signed under different circumstances, when Russia and the US didn’t consider each other to be adversaries. According to Putin, the West had also denied Russian requests to inspect its nuclear facilities under various pretexts despite the agreement allowing for this.