Russia cites “US provocation” as reason for suspension of inspections at military facilities

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Serguei Riabkov has explained that the reason that moved Moscow to suspend inspections at its military facilities, as provided for in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), was the notification of a review by the United States.

“The immediate ‘trigger’ (of Russia’s decision) was the notification received from the U.S. side of the intention to conduct an inspection on our territory in the coming days,” explained Riyabkov, who believes that “in the current circumstances, such a move seemed an absolute provocation.”

The Russian representative recalled that the supervisions of the facilities have been suspended since January 2020, when Moscow and Washington reached an agreement in the framework of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, as the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

In addition, the parties have been engaged in talks to iron out the differences that have arisen in order to resume inspections, something that, however, has been affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the response of the international community to this war, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Among these new problems that have arisen since last February are “the lack of normality of air traffic”, problems in granting visas, difficulties in making payments for services during inspections, among other aspects highlighted by Russia.

“All this complicates, if not blocks, our ability to conduct unimpeded inspections on U.S. soil and creates unilateral advantages for the U.S. side. This is, of course, unacceptable,” Deputy Minister Riabkov criticized.

At this point, the Russian side has pointed out that it brought these problems faced by its inspection teams to the attention of the United States. In fact, Moscow has acknowledged that at first the negotiations were progressing towards a good outcome, however, the U.S. authorities “thought differently and went to an unreasonable and unnecessary escalation” by announcing this latest revision.

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“We urge the United States to refrain from counterproductive actions that do not benefit the cause and to continue close cooperation in order to resume the inspection activities envisaged by the Treaty as soon as possible on a realistic and equitable basis. This would be in the interests of both sides,” Riyabkov concluded.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday confirmed the temporary exclusion of its facilities from inspections under the START Treaty, signed with the United States in 1991 by then U.S. and Soviet leaders, George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev, respectively.

The agreement, for now in force for an extension signed in 2021, expires in 2026. The current U.S. president, Joe Biden, has expressed his willingness to negotiate a new arms control framework to replace the current one.

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