On Monday, Russia told Washington that it will “temporarily” prohibit the US from inspecting its nuclear weapons sites under the New START treaty over sanctions that make it difficult for Russian inspectors to travel to the US.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Russian inspections in the US have been hindered by sanctions that prohibit Russian flights and countries that have banned Russian planes from entering their airspace.
“However, there are no such obstacles for American inspectors in Russia. The Russian foreign ministry raised this matter before corresponding countries but has received no response,” the ministry said, according to the Russian news agency Tass.
Russia stressed that the move was only “temporary” and that it wants the New START to be fully implemented. “We would like to stress that these are temporary measures,” the ministry said. “Once we resolve the problems linked to the resumption of inspections under the accord, we will immediately lift” the restrictions, the ministry added.
The New START is the last piece of nuclear arms control between the US and Russia and limits the deployment of nuclear warheads, bombers, and missiles. The treaty will expire in 2026, and with US-Russia relations at such a low point, it’s not clear when a replacement will be negotiated.
The US and Russia were previously engaged in nuclear arms control talks, but the US cut them off when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Since then, Russian officials said they were willing to resume the dialogue, but the US hasn’t shown much interest.
Last week, President Biden said his administration was ready to negotiate a replacement to New START but signaled it wouldn’t happen while Russia is fighting a war in Ukraine. Russian officials said after Biden’s comments that they haven’t received an offer from the US to resume arms control talks.