Russia said Monday it was suspending US on-site inspections under a strategic arms reduction treaty with Washington, citing Western sanctions and coronavirus infections.
Russia’s foreign ministry said facilities subject to inspections under the New START treaty will be “temporarily” exempt from such inspections.
The announcement comes as ties between Russia and the United States unravel over Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine and grueling Western sanctions.
New START is the last remaining arms reduction pact between the former Cold War rivals and limits the number of nuclear warheads that can be deployed by Moscow and Washington to 1,550.
“Russia has now been forced to resort to this measure as a result of Washington’s continued desire to implicitly initiate a restart of inspections under conditions that do not take into account existing realities,” the State Department said in a statement. .
Moscow also accused Washington of “creating unilateral benefits” and depriving Russia of “the right to conduct inspections on American soil”.
The statement indicated that it had become difficult for Moscow to conduct inspections on US soil due to Western sanctions, including the closure of airspace to Russian planes and visa restrictions.
Moscow also pointed to a new spike in coronavirus cases in the United States.
“We believe that in the current circumstances, the parties should abandon clearly counterproductive efforts to artificially accelerate the resumption of START inspection activities and focus on a thorough study of all existing issues in this area,” the Foreign Ministry said. Affairs.
Last year, the United States and Russia extended New START by the maximum time allowed of five years.
Moscow’s announcement came after US President Joe Biden called on Russia and China to demonstrate their commitment to limiting nuclear weapons.
Russia should show its willingness to renew the nuclear weapons reduction pact when it expires in 2026, Biden said.
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