Russia has said it will suspend U.S. inspections of its nuclear weapons under a key treaty with the United States due to Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.
Moscow told the United States on Monday that it could no longer participate in inspections under the New Start Treaty, the last remaining major arms control agreement between the two countries, Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
It blamed bans on Russian planes entering Western airspace and difficulty obtaining visas for transit in third countries, which it said made it difficult for inspectors to travel to the United States. Russia has also claimed that an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the United States means that further visits will pose a risk to the health of its representatives.
Russia insists it is committed to complying with all the terms of the treaty, which it says is “extremely important” to global security. The company said the suspension was temporary and would be lifted “when the issue is resolved.”
The development, however, calls into question the future of the treaty, less than a week after U.S. President Joe Biden suggested it should be updated before it expires in 2026.
The new start, signed in 2011, limits the number of nuclear warheads the United States and Russia can use, as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and the heavy bombers used to deliver them.
Although President Vladimir Putin said last week that a nuclear war should never be fought, Russia has claimed the United States was not negotiating in good faith and accused the United States of withdrawing from strategic stabilization talks after the invasion of Ukraine.