Russia will keep giving the U.S. notice of its missile tests after all, diplomat says

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov
Reversing course from a day earlier, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Thursday that Moscow will continue to give the U.S. advance notice about its missile tests.
(Maxim Shemetov / Pool Photo via Associated Press)

Russia will continue to give the U.S. advance notice about its missile tests despite suspending the last remaining nuclear arms treaty between the two countries, a top Russian diplomat said Thursday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov’s statement reversed one he made Wednesday, when he said Moscow had halted all information exchanges with Washington envisioned under the 2011 New START nuclear pact, including missile-test warnings.

Ryabkov said Thursday that Russia intends to stick by its pledge last month to keep notifying the U.S. about missile tests, in line with a 1988 U.S.-Soviet agreement.


Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended the country’s participation in the New START treaty last month, saying Russia could not allow U.S. inspections of its nuclear sites at a time when Washington and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have openly declared Moscow’s defeat in Ukraine as their goal.

Moscow emphasized at the time that it wasn’t withdrawing from the pact altogether and would continue to respect the treaty’s caps on nuclear weapons.

This week, the U.S. announced that Moscow and Washington had stopped sharing the biannual nuclear weapons data envisioned by New START.

U.S. officials said Washington had offered to continue providing the information after Putin suspended Russia’s participation, but Moscow told Washington that it would not share its own data.

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The termination of information exchanges under the pact marked yet another attempt by the Kremlin to discourage the West from ramping up its support for Ukraine by pointing to Russia’s massive nuclear arsenal.

Last weekend, Putin announced the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to the territory of Moscow’s ally Belarus.

Along with data about the current state of the countries’ nuclear forces routinely released every six months, the parties to the New START treaty also exchanged advance warnings about test launches and deployments of their nuclear weapons.

Such notices have been an essential element of strategic stability for decades, allowing Russia and the U.S. to correctly interpret each other’s moves and make sure that neither country mistakes a test launch for a missile attack.

Ryabkov would not
say whether the 1988 U.S.-Soviet agreement would cover all the missile tests that Russia was obliged to issue notices about under New START.