To mark the fifth anniversary of the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which was signed in April 2010 and came into force on February 5, 2011, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice stated: "We look forward to full implementation of the Treaty and continue to call on Russia to answer the President's invitation five years ago to begin talks on further reductions to our nuclear arsenals."
Presidents Obama and Medvedev after signing of New START in Prague, April 2010
Several Russian media outlets reported on statements by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov to the effect that Russia will not at this time be returning to nuclear arms reduction talks with the U.S.
In an interview, Ryabkov explained Russia's rejection of Security Advisor Rice's call, outlining two reasons: First, the U.S. is stepping up its military capability by developing its anti-missile defense system and its Prompt Global Strike (PGS) precision conventional weapons program, and second, the U.S. is currently undermining the Russian defense industry through its sanctions against Russia.
Following are excerpts from statements by Ryabkov, from interviews with the TASS and Russia Today news agencies and from reports in the Russian daily Kommersant on this issue.
In a February 6, 2016 interview, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov told Russia Today: "The Russian side's position regarding the possibility of further negotiations on the [New] START, and regarding nuclear arms reduction in general, hasn't changed. We have reached the point where further bilateral Russian-American negotiations in this field are not possible."
He added that Russia would only consider resuming negotiations if the abovementioned circumstances changed, and if the parties to the talks come to the dialogue as "equal sovereign states."
The same day, commentator Michael Belyaev wrote in Kommersant that the main reason for this Russian position is that "in light of the current U.S. policy towards Russia, the U.S. proposals are [an attempt] to impose a game by 'American rules' – There is no way that such a proposal can be seriously considered."
In a February 8, 2016 interview with TASS, Ryabkov clarified other defense-related issues that he said need be considered before the nuclear dialogue can resume: "We've reduced our nuclear potential to the level of the 1950s and 60s... so we cannot further reduce nuclear arms while the nuclear potential of other countries is not part of [the process] of nuclear arms reduction. On the other hand, we are very concerned about developments in areas that impact the strategic balance... The American initiative of developing its global anti-missile defense system is being implemented really quickly in many regions, including Europe and Asia." This, he added, "is closely related to Russia's nuclear deterrent potential."
Ryabkov continued: "Another significant [Russian] concern is related to the possibility of [the future] appearance of attack weapons from and in space... Many countries use space for communications, intelligence, and tracking of specific regions... What we are saying is that it is unacceptable to use space for attack weapons, which could be used against other countries' space objects, or for airstrikes against targets on Earth. Technologies are developing, and such a possibility is becoming much more realistic. While no restrictions in this area exist, it is really difficult to discuss further reduction of nuclear arms, [since] they still play a key role for strategic deterrence."
The February 6 Kommersant report also quoted Ryabkov as noting that there is a further substantial obstacle to the nuclear disarmament process: "The U.S. is continuing... development of its strategic weapons [i.e. PGS]... Besides, in parallel with the proposal [to resume] negotiating... the U.S. administration is taking actions directed at undermining Russian defense and defense-industrial potential, through its sanction policies."
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.