Russia has said it will suspend US inspections of its nuclear weapons under a key deal with the US because of Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.
Moscow told the US on Monday it could no longer participate in inspections under the New Start Treaty, the last major arms control agreement remaining between the countries, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
He blamed the ban on Russian aircraft entering western airspace and difficulties in obtaining transit visas in third countries, making it difficult for their inspectors to travel to the US. Russia also argued that the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the US meant that further visits would be risky for the health of its delegates.
Russia insisted that it was committed to all the provisions of the agreement, which it called “extremely important” for global security. It said the suspensions were temporary and would be lifted “once the underlying issues are resolved”.
The development, however, casts doubt on the future of the deal less than a week after US President Joe Biden proposed renewing it before its 2026 deadline.
The New Beginning, signed in 2011, limits the number of nuclear warheads the US and Russia can use, as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and the heavy bombers used to deliver them.
Although President Vladimir Putin said last week that nuclear war should never be fought, Russia has argued that the US is not negotiating in good faith and blamed it for pulling out of strategic stability talks after the invasion of Ukraine.