The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has strained relations between the United States and Russia to its lowest point since the Cold War. According to the author of the article Tom O’Connorwith this dangerous downturn in relations, a new challenge has emerged for the already weak cooperation in the field of nuclear weapons between the two countries with the world’s largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons.
The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3) is the last remaining bilateral agreement limiting the nuclear arsenals of Washington and Moscow. Mutual distrust and the introduction of new, more modern weapons systems have raised questions about the fate of the deal for years, and the Russian Foreign Ministry’s announcement of the suspension of inspections, according to the author of the article, “delivered an ominous blow to the future of the pact.”
Inspections have been suspended since the spring of 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, but recently the presidential administration Joe Biden set out to restore this practice, but was refused by Moscow.
“The Russian Federation is now forced to resort to this measure as a result of Washington’s persistent desire to implicitly achieve a restart of inspection activities on conditions that do not take into account existing realities, create unilateral advantages for the United States and effectively deprive the Russian Federation of the right to carry out inspections on American soil,” the statement says. Russian Foreign Ministry statement.
The Russian Embassy in the United States noted that they are working with their American colleagues to remove organizational and technical obstacles to the resumption of inspections.
“Some issues were resolved, but not all,” the diplomatic mission said in a statement.
They recalled that START is now the only valid agreement between Russia and the United States in the field of nuclear weapons, and the Russian Federation is committed to complying with all its provisions.
“Meanwhile, START expires in 3.5 years. The experience of past Russian-American negotiations shows that even if both sides are ready, there is very little time left to work out an agreement. Especially considering that Washington, on its own initiative, “froze” the consultations launched in 2021,” the report says.
The United States assures that they are ready to work on a new treaty and will strive to maintain the key provisions of the START, however, as the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister noted Sergei Ryabkovit is necessary to make sure that Washington is ready to engage in dialogue on the basis of equality and take into account the interests and concerns of Russia in the field of security.
“Speculating about the prospects of a strategic dialogue with the United States, especially in the conditions when the Americans interrupted it, is a thankless task. Frankly, the very possibility of its resumption is far from obvious, given the recklessly aggressive policy that Washington is pursuing against Russia, ”the diplomat said in an interview with Izvestia.
According to him, Moscow is monitoring signals regarding the resumption of the dialogue on strategic offensive arms, but it is not yet clear what is behind them, besides, “negotiations through the media are not being conducted.”
The head of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation spoke even more sharply Sergei Shoigu. He stressed that Russia is fulfilling all its obligations under START-3, the declared levels of carriers and warheads are maintained within the established limits.
“US statements that Russia must earn the right to continue dialogue with the United States do not stand up to scrutiny. Arms control is a two-way street. The result is achievable only if the balance of interests and interest of all participants is observed,” he said at the opening of the Moscow Conference on International Security as part of the Army-2022 forum.
At the same time, the head of the department noted that the Russian experience of interaction in the field of disarmament shows that the West is not striving to fulfill “treaty obligations in the traditional sense,” and this must be taken into account when concluding agreements, especially in the field of security and arms control.
Corresponding Member of the Academy of Military Sciences of the Russian Federation, Candidate of Military Sciences Alexander Bartosh assesses the probability of concluding a new contract as medium.
– The Americans, following their usual policy, will seek from Russia the abandonment of those strategic systems that the Americans do not have, and Russia is already adopting them. This is “Zircon”, and “Dagger”, and “Sarmat”. Previously, such approaches worked for the Americans. Back at Mikhail Gorbachev Moscow went to the destruction of a number of nuclear weapons, in particular, the Oka missiles, which the Americans did not have, but we already had them in service and were made in hundreds of copies.
If the Americans seek the withdrawal of the listed types of hypersonic weapons from the strategic nuclear deterrence forces, as well as underwater deep-sea vehicles carrying nuclear weapons, then the negotiations will be very tense and will require a huge amount of time.
I think we need to insist that what we have produced and put into service is an integral element of our strategic nuclear triad. Of course, certain issues of control can be discussed with the Americans.
“SP”: – Is there a “red line” beyond which the conclusion of a new contract will become impossible at all?
– Now the Americans have violated and continue to violate a number of “red lines” marked by our leadership. Firstly, it is the refusal of the US and NATO of Russia’s security guarantees. We still have not received a response to our demands put forward a few months ago.
Secondly, this is the ongoing escalation of hostilities in Ukraine at the initiative of the United States, namely, the supply of modern weapons systems there, which are used to kill civilians and destroy a number of important infrastructure facilities, including nuclear power plants. In addition, this is the military development by the Americans and NATO of the territory of Ukraine, which is an undeniable threat to Russia’s national security. These “red lines” have been violated by the Americans, and this, of course, serves as a brake on any fruitful negotiations between us and the United States.
“SP”: – But can we even trust their guarantees if they violate them so easily?
– The security guarantees that were put forward by Russia have a very specific content: the rejection of further NATO expansion, the return of NATO to the 1997 borders and a number of other parameters. All of them are completely controllable and have a certain material content. These are not some papers signed by political and military figures, but very specific actions that Russia demands from the United States and its NATO allies in the interests of ensuring its own national security.
“SP”: – If the negotiations on the new contract drag on, is it likely that the old one will be extended?
– Of course, it is possible to extend it, but the Americans will certainly take into account the emergence of new strategic systems in our country and seek their inclusion in the START Treaty. How this will progress remains to be seen. It depends on how the Americans will behave, first of all, in Ukraine, where Russia’s position is completely obvious and known to them. As well as the attitude of the Americans towards our new air and sea strategic systems. These two parameters will have a decisive influence.
“SP”: – A number of countries, including even Ukraine, want to have nuclear weapons. If there is no new treaty, will a “Pandora’s box” be opened that will allow the now non-nuclear countries to rush towards the acquisition of nuclear weapons?
– If this trend prevails, then the responsibility for its development will be placed, first of all, on the United States, which is no less interested in the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons than Russia. So far, it has been possible to restrain these processes to a certain extent. If a common language is not found between Russia and the United States on the basis of the principles that Russia has set forth, then this will threaten further negative developments in the international situation, including in the nuclear sphere.