Russia said on Wednesday it would need to see a change in NATO’s stance and a willingness for dialog before it would consider returning to its last remaining nuclear treaty with the United States.
The lower house of the Russian parliament voted quickly in favor of suspending Moscow’s participation in the New START treaty, rubber-stamping a decision that President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday when he accused the West of trying to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia in Ukraine.
The 2010 treaty limits each country’s deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550. Security analysts say its potential collapse could unleash a new arms race at a perilous moment when Putin is increasingly portraying the Ukraine war he launched one year ago as a direct confrontation with the West.
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Asked in what circumstances Russia would return to the deal, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Everything will depend on the position of the West… When there’s a willingness to take into account our concerns, then the situation will change.”
Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying: “We will, of course, be closely monitoring the further actions of the United States and its allies, including with a view to taking further countermeasures, if necessary.”
Responding to a CNN report that Russia had unsuccessfully tested its Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this week – a weapon capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads – Interfax quoted Ryabkov as saying: “You cannot trust everything that appears in the media, especially if the source is CNN.
The suspended treaty gives each side the right to inspect the other’s sites – though visits had been halted since 2020 because of COVID and the Ukraine war – and obliges the parties to provide detailed notifications on their respective deployments.
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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that the Russian move was “deeply unfortunate and irresponsible.” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said it made the world more dangerous and urged Putin to reconsider.
Russia said, however, it would continue to abide by the limits on the number of warheads it can deploy and stood open to reversing its decision.
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Before passing the vote in Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, speaker Vyacheslav Volodin blamed the United States for the breakdown.
“By ceasing to comply with its obligations and rejecting our country’s proposals on global security issues, the United States destroyed the architecture of international stability,” Volodin said in a statement.
Russia is now demanding that British and French nuclear weapons targeted against Russia should be included in the arms control framework, something analysts say is a non-starter for Washington after more than half a century of bilateral nuclear treaties with Moscow.
“We will obviously pay special attention to what line and what decisions London and Paris are taking, which can no longer, even hypothetically, be considered outside of the Russian-U.S. dialog on nuclear arms control,” the TASS news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying.
He said there was currently no direct dialog between Moscow and Washington on nuclear issues and it was unknown whether it would resume.
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