Russia stops sharing missile test information with US and opens drills

MOSCOW (AP) – A senior Russian diplomat said on Wednesday that Moscow would no longer notify the US of its missile tests, an announcement that came as the Russian military deployed mobile launchers in Siberia to test the country’s massive nuclear capabilities amid the Fights to demonstrate Ukraine.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a remark transmitted by Russian news agencies that Moscow has stopped everything Exchange of information with Washington having previously suspended its involvement in the last remaining nuclear weapons pact with the US

In addition to data on the current status of the countries’ nuclear forces, the parties also exchanged warnings about test launches. Such communications have been an essential element of strategic stability for decades, allowing Russia and the United States to correctly interpret each other’s moves and ensure that neither country confuses a test launch with a missile strike.

Ending missile test warnings appears to be another attempt by Moscow to stop the West from stepping up its support for Ukraine by pointing to Russia’s massive nuclear arsenal. It comes days after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to Moscow’s ally Belarus.

Last month, Putin suspended the New START treaty and accused Russia of not being able to accept US inspections of its nuclear facilities under the deal, while Washington and its NATO allies have openly declared Russia’s defeat in Ukraine as their goal.

Moscow stressed that it was not withdrawing from the pact completely and would continue to respect the nuclear weapons ceilings specified in the treaty.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry initially said Moscow would continue to notify the US of planned test launches of its ballistic missiles, but Ryabkov’s statement reflected an abrupt change of course.

“There will be no notifications at all,” Ryabkov said in remarks by Russian news outlets when asked whether Moscow would also stop issuing notifications of planned missile tests. “All notifications, all types of notifications, all activity under the contract. will be suspended and not implemented, regardless of US position.

Ryabkov’s announcement followed Statement by US officials that Moscow and Washington have stopped sharing semi-annual nuclear weapons data provided for in the New START treaty. White House, Pentagon and State Department officials said the US offered to continue providing Russia with that information even after Putin suspended its participation in the treaty, but Moscow told Washington it was not sharing its own data become.

The New START, signed by then-Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. The agreement provides for extensive on-site inspections to verify compliance.

Inspections have been suspended since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Talks about their resumption were supposed to have taken place in November 2022, but Russia abruptly called them off, citing US support for Ukraine.

Mobile Yars missile launchers will maneuver over three regions of Siberia as part of Russian exercises that began on Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The moves will include measures to conceal the deployment from foreign satellites and other intelligence assets, the ministry said.

The Department of Defense did not say how long the drills would last, nor did it mention plans for the drill launches. The Yars is a nuclear-tipped ICBM with a range of approximately 11,000 kilometers (over 6,800 miles). It forms the backbone of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces.

The Department of Defense released video showing huge trucks loaded with missiles pulling out of a base to go on patrol. According to the ministry, around 300 vehicles and 3,000 soldiers are involved in the maneuvers in eastern Siberia.

The massive exercise came days after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, Russia’s neighbor and ally.

Intended for use on the battlefield, tactical nuclear weapons have a relatively short range and are much less effective than the long-range strategic missiles armed with nuclear warheads that can wipe out entire cities.

Putin’s decision to base the tactical weapons in Belarus followed his repeated warnings that Moscow was ready to use “all available means” – a reference to its nuclear arsenal – to repel attacks on Russian territory.

Ryabkov said Wednesday that Putin’s move followed the West’s failure to heed earlier “serious signals” from Moscow about what he called “the fundamental irresponsibility of Western elites towards their people and international security.”

“Now they have to deal with changing realities,” he said, adding, “We hope that NATO officials will properly assess the gravity of the situation.”

Russian officials have issued a spate of hawkish remarks since their troops invaded Ukraine, warning that continued Western support for Ukraine increases the risk of a nuclear conflict.

In a remark released on Tuesday, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, which Putin chairs, strongly warned the US and its allies not to get hopeful Russia’s defeat in Ukraine.

Patrushev claimed that some American politicians believe the US could launch a pre-emptive missile attack on Russia that Moscow could not respond to, an alleged belief he described as “short-sighted stupidity that is very dangerous.”

“Russia is patient and not trying to frighten anyone with its military superiority, but it has unique modern weapons capable of crushing any opponent, including the United States, in the event of a threat to its existence,” Patrushev said .

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