MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced Monday that Moscow was temporarily withdrawing from the inspection regime established under a key bilateral nuclear arms reduction treaty between it and the U.S.
In a statement on its website, the ministry said Western sanctions made it impossible for Russia to enforce the New START Treaty “in strict accordance with the principles of parity and equality of the parties.” It said the sanctions effectively barred Russian inspectors from carrying out activities on U.S. soil.
The ministry also said the barring of Russian planes from U.S. airspace and that of Washington’s Western allies was an obstacle, as was the tightening of visa requirements for Russian inspectors. It claimed that U.S. inspectors have not faced comparable difficulties, despite Russia closing its skies to the European Union’s 27 nations, the U.K. and Canada — though not the U.S. — after the start of the conflict in Ukraine in late February.
Moscow said at the time that exceptions would be made for diplomatic missions and deliveries of humanitarian aid.
The statement Monday said attempts to resume START inspections were “deliberately counterproductive,” and urged instead a “a thorough study of all existing problems in this area, the successful settlement of which would allow a return to full-scale application as soon as possible of all verification mechanisms of the Treaty.”
It emphasized that the measures were temporary, and said Russia remained “fully committed to complying with all provisions of the Treaty.”
The New START, or New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, was signed by President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev in 2010. It was the third such bilateral agreement between the two countries since the 1991 collapse of the USSR. It is set to expire in 2026, with the most recent five-year extension agreed to last January.