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Russia says it had ‘no choice’ but to cancel nuclear talks with US

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)
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov (photo by AFP)

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov says Moscow had “no other choice” but to cancel talks with Washington over inspections under the “New START” nuclear weapons control treaty.

Ryabkov said on Tuesday that Russia had wanted to discuss resuming inspections while the United States had other priorities.

“We have repeatedly explained our position... but we did not see the slightest desire on the American side to move in this direction,” he said. “By and large, the situation was such that we had no other choice. The decision was made at the political level.”

Ryabkov said Moscow wanted to discuss the broader issue of “strategic stability,” an area that covers a host of nuclear-related issues between the two countries.

“The Americans focused exclusively on the topic of resuming inspections... meanwhile, the solution of other issues has been and remains a priority for us,” he said.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Ryabkov said that the situation in Ukraine also played a part in Russia’s last-minute decision to scrap the meeting of the bilateral commission. He further said it was unlikely any meeting between the two sides would take place this year.

The New START treaty came into force in 2011 and caps the number of nuclear warheads that both countries can deploy. The meetings on the treaty – the only agreement left regulating the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals – were scheduled to be held in the Egyptian capital of Cairo from November 29 to December 6.

The administration of US President Joe Biden is blaming Russia for postponing meetings to discuss the nuclear arms control agreement. In a statement Monday, the US State Department said that “the Russian side informed the United States that Russia has unilaterally postponed the meeting and stated that it would propose new dates.”

The US and the West have accused Russia of engaging in “nuclear blackmail” during the war in Ukraine.

Moscow denies having threatened a nuclear attack over Ukraine and says the West is responsible for upping the nuclear rhetoric surrounding the conflict.

Russia started the military campaign against its southern neighbor in February. It says it launched the operation in order to defend the pro-Russia population in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk against alleged persecution by Kiev.

Ever since the beginning of the war, Kiev's allies, led by the United States and Britain, have been supplying Ukraine with weapons, a step that Russia says would prolong the conflict.

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