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Russian minister rips Washington nuclear arms treaty 'ultimatums,' demands US halt 'hostile' policy on Moscow

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reportedly said Saturday that Moscow’s move to suspend its nuclear arms treaty with Washington was “unshakable” and could only be reversed if the U.S. abandons its “hostile” policy toward Russia. 

“Our decision to suspend the START Treaty is unshakable,” Ryabkov said, according to Russian state-owned news agency TASS. “Our own condition for returning to a fully operational treaty is for the U.S. to abandon its fundamentally hostile stance toward Russia.”

“Talking to the Russian Federation in the language of ultimatums just does not work,” Ryabkov is quoted as having told Russia’s three main news agencies Saturday, according to Reuters. “Through the fault of the United States, many elements of the former architecture in this area have either been completely destroyed or moved in a semi-lethal state.” 

Russian President Vladimir Putin in February – around the one-year anniversary of his invasion of Ukraine – announced that Moscow was suspending participation in the New START treaty. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of State announced a set of four U.S. countermeasures in response to Russia’s violations of the New START Treaty. 

On Friday, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told the Arms Control Association (ACA) Annual Forum that “rather than waiting to resolve all of our bilateral differences – the United States is ready to engage Russia now to manage nuclear risks and develop a post-2026 arms control framework.”

Signed in 2010 and due to expire in 2026, the New START treaty limited the number of U.S. and Russian nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles. 

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Russian minister speaks at news conference

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, rejected Washington’s use of “ultimatums” against the Russian Federation after suspending New START.  (Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sullivan said the type of limits the United States can agree to after the treaty expires in 2026 “will of course be impacted by the size and scale of China’s nuclear buildup.”

The State Department said the United States notified Russia of the countermeasures, which are “fully consistent with international law,” in advance and “conveyed the United States’ desire and readiness to reverse the countermeasures and fully implement the treaty if Russia returns to compliance.”

Ryabkov noted Saturday that Washington seemed willing to continue to follow the 1998 Ballistic Missile Launch Notification Agreement. 

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