Chris Lange, FISM News
The U.S. will no longer share strategic nuclear forces data with Russia, White House National Security spokesman John Kirby told reporters Tuesday, citing Moscow’s noncompliance with the New START treaty.
“We obviously would like to see Russia back in New START in full compliance. We believe that the New START Treaty is good for both our countries. It’s good for the world when our two countries are in full compliance,” Kirby said.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended the 2010 arms control pact between the U.S. and Russia that limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. The agreement allowed for on-site inspections to verify compliance.
“Since they have refused to be in compliance with that particular modality of New START, we have decided to likewise not share that data,” Kirby said. “We would prefer to be able to do that, but it requires them to be willing as well.”
Kirby’s announcement came a week after Putin announced the transfer of tactical nuclear weapons to ally Belarus. Moscow has engaged in months of nuclear saber-rattling over U.S.-supplied military defense aid to Ukraine.
GERMANY CONFIRMS ARRIVAL OF LEOPARD TANKS IN UKRAINE
Berlin officials confirmed yesterday that promised Leopard II tanks arrived in Ukraine last week. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the tanks “have made it into the hands of our Ukrainian friends as promised and on time,” adding that he believed the Leopards could “make a decisive contribution” on the frontlines of the war.
Kyiv is already in possession of Challenger 2 tanks from the U.K., as well as an additional 10 tanks from Sweden and three from Portugal. Poland had previously supplied Kyiv with a battalion of older-model Leopards.
Armor deliveries to Ukraine may be behind Russia’s increased nuclear rhetoric, according to Anna Ohanyan, a nonresident senior scholar in the Russia and Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Ohanyan recently told The Hill that “new armor in Ukraine is creating uncertainties and fear in Moscow,” which she suggested as a possible motive for Russia’s threats.
“So the nuclear option is really done as a way to enhance Putin’s power and compensate for [his] losses and inability to win on the battleground,” she said.
RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE FLOUNDERS IN EASTERN UKRAINE
Meanwhile, new battlefield reports show that Russian Wagner Group forces are losing the upper hand in the intense battle for Bakhmut and continue to fail in efforts to command other strategic points.
Russian assaults on Bakhmut have dwindled in recent weeks, according to the British Defense Ministry’s Wednesday latest battlefield update.
Ukrainian defenders have managed to push back Wagner fighters from a critical supply route. The Ministry noted that “Wagner had previously been within a few hundred meters of the route.”
British intelligence officials added that “personnel shortages are likely hampering Russian offensive efforts in the sector.”
Moscow claimed Sunday that Wagner forces had taken control of Bakhmut’s Azom factory complex, but British officials contend that “the area likely remains contested, as it has been for the past fortnight.”
UN ATOMIC CHIEF: IMPERILED NUCLEAR POWER PLANT SITUATION ‘ISN’T GETTING ANY BETTER’
The U.N.’s atomic energy chief warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Monday that the situation at The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant “isn’t getting any better,” The Associated Press reported. Months of fighting in the area has caused significant damage to the plant, forcing it to rely on emergency diesel generators to power its cooling systems.
In a meeting with Zelenskyy in southern Ukraine this week, International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said the situation at the plant remains dire amid ongoing fighting that has resulted in frequent blackouts at the facility since Russian forces took it over last year.
Grossi plans to visit the plant this week for the second time. The Vienna-based agency has staff permanently deployed at the plant since Grossi’s last visit in September.
Earlier this month, fighting interrupted the power supply to the plant for half a day, forcing staff to activate backup generators.
ZELENSKYY INVITED XI TO VISIT UKRAINE
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday that he had invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit his country.
“We are ready to see him here,” Zelenskyy said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. “I want to speak with him. I had contact with him before full-scale war. But during all this year, more than one year, I didn’t have.”
The Ukrainian leader also said that he did not believe Beijing gave Putin what he wanted during Xi’s recent visit to Moscow, namely, lethal weapons to replace thinning Russian stockpiles.
Zelenskyy posited that Putin’s decision to move tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus signified an effort by the Kremlin leader to divert attention away from the fact that China had not given any such assistance.
“What does it mean? It means the [Chinese] visit was not good for Russia,” he asserted.