Russia announced on Monday that it would halt planned US inspections of its military bases under the New START treaty, the main nuclear disarmament deal between the two powers, pledging to act in response to US bans on similar Russian inspections in the US.
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Russia “officially informed” the US on Monday that all sites subject to inspections under the new opening agreement would be “temporarily exempted”, Russian diplomacy said in a statement.
This includes missile launch sites, air and naval bases where nuclear missiles are deployed.
The announcement comes amid a Russian offensive in Ukraine since February 24, while Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to praise new “invincible” weapons developed by Russia.
“The Russian Federation is forced to resort to this measure (…) due to the facts that it creates unilateral advantages for the United States and deprives Russia of its right to carry out explorations on the territory of the United States”, the press release says.
Russian diplomacy has cited difficulties in issuing visas, particularly due to restrictions on the travel of Russian researchers and Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Ukrainian conflict.
“US inspectors and their aircraft crews have not had similar difficulties,” the statement said.
However, he underlines that Russia “greatly appreciates the unique role” of the agreement in relations between Moscow and Washington in the nuclear field.
Russian diplomacy says Russia will “immediately” rescind the decision announced on Monday once issues surrounding the resumption of exploration under the deal are resolved.
The US did not criticize the announcement.
Washington respects the New Beginning Agreement “but we keep confidential the discussions between the parties regarding the application of the agreement,” a State Department spokeswoman told AFP.
“The principles of mutual reciprocity, predictability and stability will continue to guide America’s approach,” he added.
The New Start Agreement is the latest bilateral agreement to link the world’s two major nuclear powers.
Signed in 2010, it limits the two countries’ arsenals to a maximum of 1,550 warheads each, a nearly 30% reduction compared to the previous limit set in 2002. More than enough to destroy the earth many times over.
In January 2021, Vladimir Putin extended it for five years until 2026.
Until now, Moscow and Washington each had the right to carry out no fewer than twenty mutual inspections per year within the framework of this agreement.
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