Chris Lange, FISM News
Russia has violated its nuclear arms control agreement with the U.S. by refusing to engage in required talks or allow onsite inspections, according to a State Department report sent to Congress this week.
“Russia is not complying with its obligation under the New START Treaty to facilitate inspection activities on its territory,” a State Department spokesperson told The Hill on Tuesday, adding that Moscow’s “refusal to facilitate inspection activities prevents the United States from exercising important rights under the treaty and threatens the viability of U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control.”
Moscow has also failed to comply with the treaty’s “obligation to convene a session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission in accordance with the treaty-mandated timeline,” the spokesperson added, speaking on condition of anonymity. Russia abruptly pulled out of a scheduled meeting of the Commission in November 2022.
Washington and Moscow entered into the New START treaty in 2010 under the Obama administration. The agreement established the number of nuclear warheads both the U.S. and Russia can deploy at any time and allows both parties to inspect the other’s weapons sites 18 times per year. Russia agreed to a five-year extension of the treaty in January 2021.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, the relationship between Moscow and Washington has deteriorated significantly, with tensions rivaling those of the Cold War. President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly threatened to take nuclear action against the U.S. over its role in providing military assistance to Ukraine.
“Russia has a clear path for returning to full compliance. All Russia needs to do is allow inspection activities on its territory, just as it did for years under the New START Treaty, and meet in a session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission. There is nothing preventing Russian inspectors from traveling to the United States and conducting inspections,” the State Department spokesperson said.
GOP LAWMAKERS URGE BIDEN TO READY MILITARY
Republican Arms Services lawmakers issued a joint statement Tuesday in response to the State Dept. report, condemning Moscow over the violations and warning that the infringements could have serious implications in terms of global security.
They also called on the Biden administration to ready the U.S. military should it need to respond.
“Russia must be held accountable for its actions if the New START Treaty, or any future agreement, is to have any meaning at all. If these agreements cannot be enforced, then they do nothing to enhance U.S. security, and serve only to undermine it,” the statement read.
“We urge President Biden to direct the Department of Defense to prepare for a future where Russia may deploy large numbers of warheads, well in excess of New START Treaty limits,” the lawmakers added.
Russia reacted to the State Dept. report on Wednesday, saying that it intends to preserve the nuclear arms treaty, despite what it called a “destructive” U.S. approach to arms control.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters at a briefing Wednesday that Moscow recognizes that it is necessary to preserve at least some “hints” of continued dialogue with Washington, “no matter how sad the situation is at the present time,” Reuters reported.
“We consider the continuation of this treaty very important,” Peskov said, adding that the New START treaty is the only one that remained “at least hypothetically viable”.
“Otherwise, we see that the United States has actually destroyed the legal framework” for arms control, he added.
US SET TO ANNOUNCE $2 BILLION MILITARY AID PACKAGE THAT INCLUDES LONGER-RANGE ROCKETS
The U.S. is readying more than $2 billion worth of additional military aid for Ukraine that will, for the first time, include longer-range rockets. Reuters cited two U.S. officials who were briefed on the matter, who also said the latest package will include precision-guided munitions, more Patriot air defense systems, and Javelin anti-tank weapons.
One of the officials said that the Biden administration will use $1.76 billion from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) to purchase a new weapon, the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), which has a target range of 94 miles. The GLSDBs will enable Ukraine’s forces to hit targets previously out of reach, including deeper behind enemy lines.
Washington has so far limited its provision of missiles to Ukraine to short- to mid-range projectiles for defensive purposes, with a target range designed to shoot down incoming missiles and drones. The provision of longer-range missiles, coming on the heels of last week’s announcement from Washington that it will supply Ukraine with high-tech Abrams combat tanks, further points to a marked departure from the Biden administration’s risk-aversion strategy in dealing with Moscow.
The new package could be announced as early as Wednesday.
The U.S. has thus far given Ukraine more than $27.2 billion in security assistance since Russia’s February 2022 invasion.
ISRAELI PM NETANYAHU WILLING TO SERVE AS MEDIATOR
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN Tuesday that he would be willing to serve as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine under the right conditions.
“If asked by all relevant parties, I’ll certainly consider it, but I’m not pushing myself in,” Netanyahu told CNN’s Jake Tapper, adding that such a request would have to come at the “right time and the right circumstances.” He also said that the hypothetical undertaking would require the approval of Washington, because “you can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen.”
The Israeli leader also revealed that, toward the beginning of the conflict last year, he received an “unofficial” request to mediate but said that he declined the offer because, at the time, he wasn’t prime minister. He did not say who made the request.
Israel Hayom reported that an advisor for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last month that Netanyahu would be “an effective mediator.”