Russia stops sharing missile test information with US, begins training


MOSCOW — Russia will no longer give advance notice to the United States about missile tests, as envisioned under a nuclear deal suspended by the Kremlin, a senior diplomat in Moscow said Wednesday, during the fighting in Ukraine. ability.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Russian news agencies that after Moscow suspended its participation in the nuclear weapons ban treaty with the United States last month, it has signed all agreements with Washington under the last remaining nuclear weapons treaty with the United States. He said he had stopped exchanging information.

In addition to data on the status of each country’s nuclear arsenals, which are regularly released semi-annually in accordance with the New START Treaty, the parties also exchanged advance warnings on nuclear weapons test-launches and deployments. Notifications like this have been an essential component of strategic stability for decades, ensuring that Russia and the United States correctly interpret each other’s movements and that neither country mistakes test launches for missile strikes. made it possible.

The termination of intelligence exchanges under the pact marks yet another attempt by the Kremlin to discourage Western powers from stepping up their support for Ukraine by pointing to Russia’s arsenal of nuclear weapons. Recently, President Vladimir Putin announced the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus, an ally of Moscow.

Putin said last month that Russia could not accept US inspections of nuclear facilities under the deal when Washington and its NATO allies openly declared the defeat of Moscow in Ukraine as their goal. , suspended the New START Treaty. Russia stressed that it does not intend to withdraw completely from the treaty and that it will continue to respect the nuclear weapons ceiling set by the treaty.

It was not immediately clear whether Ryabkov’s statement indicated Moscow’s intention to end all warnings about missile tests, or just those envisaged by the New START Treaty. Russia and Washington have exchanged notices of test-launching ballistic missiles since the Cold War, and the Foreign Ministry said last month that Russia would continue to issue them in line with the 1988 U.S.-Soviet agreement.

“There will be no notifications at all,” Ryabkov said when asked by Russian news agency whether the Russian government would stop issuing notifications about its missile test plans. “All notifications, notifications of any kind, all activities within the framework of the treaty are suspended and will not be implemented regardless of what position the United States takes.”

Russian nuclear test
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov attends a conference in Moscow on March 15, 2022. (Pool photo via Maxim Shemetov/AP)

Vedant Patel, deputy spokesman for the US State Department, said the Biden administration was aware of Ryabkov’s comments but “has not received notice of any changes.”

He added that Washington is “totally concerned about Russia’s reckless actions related to the New START Treaty.”

Ryabkov’s announcement followed statements by US officials that Moscow and Washington had stopped sharing semi-annual nuclear weapons data envisioned by the New START Treaty. The US said it had offered to continue providing this information to Russia even after Putin suspended its participation in the treaty, but Moscow said it would not share its own data with Washington.

New START, signed by then-Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, limits countries to deploy 1,550 nuclear warheads and 700 missiles and bombers. The agreement envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance.

Testing has been put on hold since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Talks to resume talks were supposed to take place in November 2022, but Russia abruptly canceled them, citing US support for Ukraine.

The Yars mobile missile launcher will cross three regions of Siberia as part of the Russian exercises that began Wednesday, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The move would include steps to conceal deployments from foreign satellites and other intelligence assets, the ministry said.

The Defense Department has not said how long the training will last or how the training will be launched. The YAZ is a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of approximately 11,000 kilometers (over 6,800 miles). It forms the backbone of Russia’s strategic missile force.

A Ministry of Defense video shows a truck loaded with missiles going out on patrol from the base. The ministry said the exercises involved about 300 vehicles and his 3,000-strong force in eastern Siberia.

The exercise comes days after Putin announced plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Russia’s neighbor and ally Belarus. Such weapons are intended for use on the battlefield, and have a relatively short range and much lower power compared to long-range strategic missiles equipped with nuclear warheads capable of destroying entire cities.

Putin’s decision on tactical weapons follows his repeated warnings that Moscow is ready to use “all available means” (a reference to nuclear weapons) to fend off attacks on Russian territory. rice field.

Ryabkov said on Wednesday that Putin’s move followed a failure by allies in Kiev to heed earlier “critical signals” from Moscow.

Russian officials have released a barrage of hawkish statements since their troops entered Ukraine, warning that continued Western support for Kiev poses the threat of a nuclear conflict.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the secretary of the Russian Security Council, chaired by Putin, Nikolai Patrushev urged the United States and its allies not to harbor hopes of Russia’s defeat in Ukraine. warned.

Patrushev argued that some US politicians believe the US can launch preventive missile strikes against Russia.

“Russia is patient and does not seek to frighten anyone with its military superiority, but it has its own modern weapons that can destroy any enemy, including the United States, if its existence is threatened.” Patrushev said.