March 1, 2023 – Russia-Ukraine news

Russia has given the US an official diplomatic note on its withdrawal from the New START, a key nuclear arms reduction agreement, according to the State Department.

“I think it is fair to say that what we have learned from that diplomatic note did not tell us anything we didn’t already know from the public statements that have emanated from Moscow,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Wednesday.

Price called Russia’s decision to unilaterally suspend the treaty “unfortunate” and “irresponsible.”

“Russia is not better off in a world where the two largest nuclear powers are no longer engaged in bilateral arms control,” Price said, adding that “Russia’s willingness to promote instability, to promote irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, endanger every nation on this planet.”

Price said that the US is still in compliance with the treaty, “including New START’s numerical limits” on nuclear weapons, but suggested that could change depending on “how Russia chooses to proceed.”

“If we see Russia take steps that would require any sort of change in our own nuclear posture or approach, we will make those adjustments as is appropriate,” the official said.

A senior State Department official said Monday that they were “still receiving notifications, as recently as today, under the treaty, regular notifications,” but “we expect that as soon as that suspension has been formalized, that those will stop.”

More background: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last month that he was suspending his country’s participation in the treaty, imperiling the last remaining pact that regulates the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals.

The treaty puts limits on the number of deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons that both the US and Russia can have. It was last extended in early 2021 for five years, meaning the two sides would soon need to begin negotiating on another arms control agreement.

Under the key nuclear arms control treaty, both the United States and Russia are permitted to conduct inspections of each other’s weapons sites, though inspections had been halted since 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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