Victoria Nuland, undersecretary of state for political affairs, told the Russian news agency TASS on Thursday that the US was ready to hold discussions with Moscow on the New START treaty “tomorrow” if Russia was willing to do the same.
Her comments came after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he was suspending Russia’s participation in the New START, which limits the deployment of nuclear warheads and launchers and is the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the two powers.
“We’re ready to do it tomorrow if the Russian Federation is ready. And we’re also ready to allow inspections,” Nuland said.
According to the State Department, inspections under New START have been paused since March 2020 due to Covid-19. The US requested to conduct an inspection over the summer, but Russia said no, citing US sanctions they said impeded Russia’s ability to inspect Washington’s nuclear weapons.
The US and Russia eventually agreed to hold a meeting under the New START treaty in November 2022, but Moscow canceled the talks at the last minute over tensions in Ukraine. Since Putin announced the suspension of New START, Russian officials have stressed the move is temporary and said it could be reversed if the US moves to de-escalate tensions. But the Biden administration has shown no interest in backing down.
Nuland also told TASS that the US would only support negotiations on Ukraine if they were done under Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s “peace formula.” Zelensky’s plan calls for a full Russian withdrawal and for tribunals for alleged Russian war crimes, which are non-starters for talks with Moscow.