Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said upcoming talks in Egypt on nuclear weapons are unlikely to lead to any significant breakthrough. The Kremlin views the current arms control environment as a long-term problem that will take time to resolve.
Ryabkov said Russian and American officials will meet sometime in late November or early December, but warned the sit-down may not produce immediate results.
"This isn’t a problem that started today or yesterday and it will hardly be possible to solve it in the course of a few days," he said.
Bilateral arms control mechanisms between Moscow and Washington dissolved in the post-Soviet era. During his two-term administration, President George W. Bush withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a 1972 deal which placed limits on both countries’ air defenses in an effort to avoid a nuclear first-strike by either side. President Barack Obama later deployed launchers capable of firing strategic missiles in Eastern Europe, while President Donald Trump further deteriorated the arms control environment by withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
The New START Treaty inked in 2010 is currently the only agreement limiting the US and Russian nuclear stockpiles. The inspections required under the landmark pact were suspended by the Kremlin in August, however, as Moscow claimed US sanctions prevented Russian officials from checking on American weapons.
The State Department denies that the White House is interfering with the inspections, insisting the "measures imposed as a result of Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine don’t prevent Russian inspectors from conducting New START Treaty inspections in the United States."
In an interview published on Friday, Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, warned the overall Kremlin-White House relationship is now in "deep crisis."
"I find it naive to assume, judging from media leaks only, that any transformation in approaches toward putting Russian-US relations on a new track is underway," he said, adding "Our relationship is facing a deep crisis, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel yet."
However, Antonov noted one "step in the right direction" in a statement posted on Friday, saying the US had lifted financial restrictions on Russian diplomatic facilities in the US. "On the whole, we consider the decision by the US administration to lift financial restrictions on Russian diplomatic missions to be a step in the right direction, although belated," the envoy said.
On Thursday, the Treasury Department published a general license allowing US companies to engage in business with Russian diplomatic missions.
Antonov added that "it took a lot of work to bring Washington to realize the significant damage that sanctions inflict on our diplomats around the world. We hope that banks will correctly perceive the signal from the financial regulator and stop blocking the transactions necessary to ensure the normal functioning of Russian diplomatic institutions."