Russia announced on Monday that it was suspending planned US inspections of its military sites under the New Start agreement, a key nuclear disarmament agreement between the two powers, saying it was acting in response to US obstruction of Russian inspections.
On Monday, Russia “officially” told the United States it would “temporarily exempt all sites subject to inspections under the New START agreement,” the Russian embassy said in a statement.
These include missile launch sites as well as air and naval bases where nuclear missiles are deployed.
The announcement comes amid Russia’s offensive in Ukraine since February 24, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has continued to praise the new “invincible” weapons Russia has developed.
“The Russian Federation is obliged to resort to this action […] Due to the current facts that create unilateral interests for the United States and Russia will lose the right to conduct inspections on American territory,” the statement said.
Russian diplomacy has cited difficulties in issuing visas, particularly due to restrictions on the travel of Russian inspectors and Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.
“American inspectors and their flight crews have not had similar difficulties,” the statement said.
However, Russia “highly appreciates” the deal’s “special role” in relations between Moscow and Washington in the nuclear field, he stressed.
The Russian embassy said it would “immediately” reverse the decision announced on Monday by Russia once the issues surrounding the resumption of inspections under the agreement are resolved.
America refrained from criticizing this statement.
Washington respects the New Start agreement, “but we will keep confidential the discussions between the parties regarding the application of the agreement,” a State Department spokesman told AFP.
“The principles of reciprocity, predictability and stability will continue to guide the policy of the United States,” he added.
The New START treaty is the latest bilateral agreement of its kind to bring together the world’s two major nuclear powers.
Signed in 2010, it limits both countries’ arsenals to a maximum of 1,550 deployed warheads, a reduction of about 30% from the previous limit set in 2002. Additionally, it limited the number of launchers and bombers to 800, enough to destroy the Earth several times over.
In January 2021, Vladimir Putin extended it by five years to 2026.
Until now, Moscow and Washington have the right to conduct a little less than twenty mutual inspections a year within the framework of this agreement.