Russia snubs US, boycotts key nuclear negotiations – DW – 11

Russia snubs US, boycotts key nuclear negotiations – DW – 11

Updated: 1 month, 29 days, 12 hours, 7 minutes, 37 seconds ago

Moscow has said it had "no other choice" than to postpone negotiations on the New START nuclear treaty capping the number of warheads each country has. The US says the treaty is "important for the world."

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Tuesday announced that his country's delegates would not be traveling to Cairo, Egypt, for talks on the New START nuclear weapons control treaty.

"The session of the Bilateral Coordinating Committee on the Russian-American START Treaty, previously scheduled to take place in Cairo between November 29 and December 6, will not take place on the dates indicated," he told TASS news agency.

The Foreign Ministry has since said no new talks would likely take place before the end of the year.

Ryabkov said there was a "deep disconnect" between the two countries over the treaty's implementation, lamenting that the US delegation was "traveling to Cairo to push for the resumption of inspections and not to address Russia concerns."

Moscow suspended US inspections of its military sites back in August, pointing to American obstruction of Russian inspections at US sites.

Ryabkov insisted Moscow was not seeking to set preconditions, simply that it sought a "balanced program" and discussions on "strategic stability."

Acknowledging that Ukraine had also been a determining factor for Moscow's seemingly last-minute decision, the deputy foreign minister said: "By and large, the situation was such that we had no other choice. The decision was made at the political level."

Ryabkov added leadership in Moscow had, "repeatedly explained our position ... but we did not see the slightest desire on the American side to move in this direction."

A formation of Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning fighter jets on a runway at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, AlaskaMoscow complains Washington is obstructing Russian inspectors at US nuclear sites Image: Jose Miguel Tamondong/U.S Ai/Planet Pix/ZUMAPRESS/picture alliance

Snub comes after US accusations of Russian 'nuclear blackmail'

The US has accused Moscow of using "nuclear blackmail" as a tactic in its ongoing war of aggression against neighboring Ukraine, something Moscow denies, insisting instead that it is the West that is to blame for the escalatory rhetoric surrounding the Russian invasion and war.

According to the White House, CIA Director William Burns issued warnings over the use of such threats when he met his Russian counterpart, foreign intelligence boss Sergei Naryshkin, in Ankara two weeks ago.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (l) and then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shake hands after finalizing the New START treaty during the 2011 Munich Security Conference in GermanyRussian FM Lavrov (l) and then US Secretary of State Clinton (r) finalized the treaty in Munich, Germany, in 2011 Image: Jens Meyer/AP Photo/picture alliance

New START 'important for the world'

Earlier this month the US said it expected the resumption of talks on the key nuclear disarmament treaty, but was at a loss to explain the last-minute boycott.

"We haven't received a real solid answer from the Russians as to why they postponed this," said White House National Security Council (NSC) spokesman John Kirby, adding, "We're going to be working through the embassy to try to figure out what happened here."

Signed in 2010 and finalized in 2011, the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), is the last bilateral nuclear agreement between the two nations. The treaty, currently scheduled to expire on February 5, 2026 — after a five-year extension in 2021 — limits each country to a maximum deployment of 1,550 nuclear warheads (down nearly 30% from 2002).

Talks in Cairo were scheduled to take place despite tensions over Ukraine and would have been the first face-to-face meeting of representatives from the two nuclear powers in years. The last scheduled talks, in March 2020, had to be postponed until now as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.

NSC spokesman Kirby said Washington "would like to see it [New START negotiations] get back on schedule as soon as possible," adding: "It's not just important for our two nations. It's important for the rest of the world."

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js/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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