Resumption Of New START Unlikely Due To 'Hostile' US As "Fewer & Fewer Steps" Toward Nuclear Collision Remain: Kremlin
Moscow this week warned that there remain "fewer and fewer steps" toward nuclear collision after the UK announced it is sending depleted uranium ammunition to the Ukrainians for use in their Challenger II main battle tanks.
President Putin also in the wake of London's decision said Russia will "respond accordingly" if the Ukrainians do indeed receive a "nuclear component". On Wednesday the Kremlin followed by pointing to New START's collapse, and that the nuclear treaty is unlikely to resume do to the "hostile actions" of the Untied States.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said there's really no point in resuming talks between the world's biggest nuclear powers, describing its suspension as "almost inevitable" given the "cumulative circumstances of the destructive and hostile actions of the U.S."
“I don’t think there’s any reason to discuss New START with the U.S.," Ryabkov told Kommersant daily newspaper. The blunt remarks were given at a conference called "A World Without START: What Next?"
He also blamed NATO, asserting that "NATO is trying to change the balance of power in its favor with a claim to global dominance. We won't let them do that. Hence, our deeper cooperation, including in the field of security, with China and hence our decision to suspend the START treaty," he said. As for any remaining hope of reimplementation of the nuclear arms monitoring and reduction treaty, he explained:
"We have suspended the agreement, and...the return to its full implementation is only possible in a situation when the US demonstrates that it is abandoning its hostile course towards Russia."
"There are no signs of this now, rather signs of an opposite approach, further aggravation, further escalation. There can be no question of reversing our position on the issue of suspension," he stressed.
Ryabkov added that Moscow is at the moment not considering changing the treaty's text in any way, but if "the impossible happened" and France and Britain would be willing to join the pact, "it would be a new situation, demanding a new evaluation and making new decisions."
The comment about the UK and France possibly joining the pact is all the more interesting given the fresh controversy over the depleted uranium impending shipments to Kiev.
In March 2021 the two sides renewed New START for a period of five years, and it will expire in February 2026 if it's not continued - an increasing likelihood given US-Russia relations have deteriorated so fast over the Ukraine war they are near complete breaking point. But Putin declared essentially the final death knell in a late February announcement after the treaty's fate was already extremely uncertain. The mutual monitoring missions called for under the treaty's terms have been suspended since at least last summer.
The treaty is intended to limit and reduce nuclear arms on either side, setting a limit of no more than 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 missiles. START I began in 1991, with New START signed under the Obama and Medvedev administrations in 2010 as a successor agreement.