Washington accuses Moscow of obstructing inspections and failing to attend compliance meetings.
According to sources, the US has assessed that Russia is not fulfilling its responsibilities under the final surviving nuclear arms control deal between the two countries.
According to a report provided to Congress, Russia breached the New Start pact by refusing to allow mandatory inspections and refusing to engage in compliance sessions.
“Russia’s refusal to facilitate inspection activities prevents the US from exercising important rights under the treaty and threatens the viability of US-Russian nuclear arms control,” a US state department official said.
Top Republicans wrote to Biden administration officials this week, pressing them to make a judgement on Russia's compliance, citing worries about Moscow's move last year to cease inspections and abandon participation in treaty talks.
Though the pact is unrelated to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Moscow's anger against the West over sanctions and shipments of high-tech weapons to Kiev has heightened tensions.
Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister and a key treaty negotiator, told Kommersant last Thursday that Moscow was unlikely to continue discussions as long as the US supported Ukraine.
He said Russia had told the US that "as long as the US doesn't reconsider its extremely hostile line against our country and abandon its policy of cultivating threats to Russia's national security", any "positive signals" about New Start compliance would be "unjustified, poorly timed, and inappropriate".
Ryabkov met with Lynne Tracy, the incoming US ambassador to Moscow, on Tuesday and discussed "certain topical concerns of arms control," according to the foreign ministry.
When Tracy came a day earlier to give her credentials, she was greeted by a swarm of sign-waving hecklers chanting, "America is a terrorist state!"
Police did not disperse the crowd, indicating that it had been officially sanctioned, as even pro-regime public demonstrations are strictly regulated by security forces.
US officials reiterated their commitment to the accord on Tuesday, urging Russia to return to compliance by allowing inspections to resume and convening talks. Russian inspectors encountered no difficulties in travelling to the United States, they claimed.
“Russia has a clear path for full compliance,” the state department official said. “The United States remains ready to work constructively with Russia to fully implement the New Start treaty.”
In 2021, the United States and Russia agreed to a five-year renewal of the treaty, which restricts both countries to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons.
Russia's moves have increased fears that Washington and Moscow may be unable to strike a follow-up agreement in 2026, leaving the countries without a nuclear arms control agreement.
Four Republicans on the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, Senators Roger Wicker and Deb Fischer, and Representatives Mike Rogers and Doug Lamborn, issued a statement urging the Biden administration to hold Russia accountable for the treaty violation.
“Allowing Moscow to pick and choose when and how it complies with treaty rules — especially while the United States adheres to these same rules without fail — is intolerable and unsustainable. Russia must be held accountable for its actions if the New Start treaty, or any future agreement, is to have any meaning at all,” they said.
Washington's assessment comes as Western officials are fearful that Russia may use a tactical nuclear bomb in Ukraine as the Kremlin's forces suffer further military setbacks.
By fLEXI tEAM