Russian Diplomat: Door Still Open on Future Nuclear Talks

March 1, 2023

A senior member of Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday the Kremlin may continue to exchange issues related to nuclear forces with Washington despite Moscow’s suspension of the 2010 New START treaty.

During his State of the Nation Address last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he was suspending participation in the New START arms control pact. The move followed President Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv ahead of Friday’s one-year mark since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Only hours after Putin’s announcement, though, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it would respect the nuclear weapons caps proposed under that treaty, and that Russia would continue to exchange information about ballistic missile test launches, as per earlier agreements with the U.S.

On Wednesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov revealed that Russia had given the U.S. Embassy formal notice about the New START treaty’s suspension after Putin signed the decision into law the previous day.

Ryabkov further noted that Russia and the U.S. maintained confidential discussions regarding the treaty in recent days, adding that Moscow could potentially remain open to future such exchanges.

“We will communicate and exchange information when necessary,” he said in comments carried by Russian news agencies. He emphasized, however, that Russia would maintain the treaty’s suspension “at least until our American counterparts show readiness to abandon their hostile policy toward Russia, primarily concerning the developments in Ukraine.”

Bonnie Jenkins, the U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control, said Monday that as yet, “we’re not seeing any evidence that Russia is in noncompliance” with the treaty.

The new START treaty was signed in April 2010 by then-Presidents Obama and Dmitry Medvedev. It limits the U.S. and Russia each to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. 

While the treaty relies on sweeping on-site inspections, none have occurred since 2020 because of Covid-19. Discussions on resuming them were supposed to have taken place this past November, but Russia abruptly called them off.

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