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Russia accuses US of 'provocative' weapons inspection move

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov

Russia has accused the US of "unreasonable and unnecessary escalation" in announcing an inspection of Moscow’s nuclear armaments under a mutual arms control treaty.

This comes after the United States demanded that Russia immediately allow an inspection trip under the New START treaty while Washington’s sanctions prevent Russian inspectors from carrying out reciprocal inspections.

“A notice about the US intention to perform an inspection on our territory in the nearest days became a trigger,” Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday.

The demand, he said, looked like an “open provocation” amid the current US-Russian tensions.

The US "moved to an unreasonable and unnecessary escalation," Ryabkov said. "They tried to confront us with a 'fait accompli' and conduct an inspection without prior notice."

On Monday, the foreign ministry froze the US inspections on the grounds that Washington’s sanctions on Moscow—imposed over Russia’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine—have likewise prevented Russian inspectors from paying similar visits to the American nuclear arms depots.

The New START treaty was signed in 2010 by former US president Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.

It limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers.

Just days before the treaty was due to expire in February 2021, Russia and the US agreed to extend it for another five years.

Ryabkov said that Russia had been open to discussions about the resumption of inspections, but emphasized that it should be done on the basis of parity and equality.

“We are calling on the US to renounce counterproductive actions ... and continue close cooperation for the sake of the soonest resumption of inspections on a realistic and equal basis,” he said.

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