MOSCOW — Russia will continue to notify the US in advance of its missile tests despite suspending the last remaining nuclear weapons deal between the two countries, a senior Russian diplomat said on Thursday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov’s statement followed his remarks on Wednesday, when he said Moscow had halted all exchanges of information with Washington provided for in the 2011 nuclear pact, including missile test warnings.
On Thursday, he clarified that Russia intends to honor its promise made last month to keep the US informed of missile tests, in line with a 1988 US-Soviet agreement, Ryabkov said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last month suspended the country’s participation in the New START treaty, saying Russia cannot allow US inspections of its nuclear facilities, while Washington and its NATO allies openly claim Moscow’s defeat in Ukraine as their goal have explained.
At the time, Moscow emphasized that it would not withdraw from the pact entirely and would continue to respect the limits on nuclear weapons specified in the treaty.
Earlier this week, the US announced that Moscow and Washington had stopped sharing semi-annual nuclear weapons data as mandated by New START. US officials said Washington offered to continue providing the information after Putin suspended Russia’s participation, but Moscow told Washington it would not share its own data.
The cessation of information sharing under the pact was another attempt by the Kremlin to stop the West from stepping up its support for Ukraine by pointing to Russia’s massive nuclear arsenal. Last weekend, Putin announced the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Moscow’s ally Belarus.
In addition to data on the status of countries’ nuclear forces, which is routinely released every six months, the New START treaty parties also exchanged advance warnings about test launches and deployments of their nuclear weapons.
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.
Ryabkov would not say whether the US-Soviet agreement of 1988 would cover all missile tests that Russia was required to notify under New START.
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