Russia postpones key nuclear talks for second time, says US diplomat

Russia has refused to reschedule a key meeting with U.S. nuclear negotiators that it canceled in November, a U.S. diplomat said on Tuesday, further delaying efforts to replace an expiring nuclear arms treaty between Washington and Moscow.

Bruce Turner, the U.S. permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament, said that Russia this week refused to reschedule technical consultations related to the New START treaty that were set to take place in Egypt late last year.

“We regret Russia’s abrupt and unilateral postponement of our planned November session of the Treaty’s implementation mechanism,” Turner said in remarks to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

“We are also disappointed that Russia — as recently as yesterday — has refused to reschedule the session within the timeframe prescribed by the Treaty.”

The talks scheduled for November, called the Bilateral Consultative Commission, were meant to lay the groundwork for how the U.S. and Russia could resume on-site inspections of each other’s nuclear weapons arsenals that were suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the U.S. said that Russia unilaterally “postponed” participating in the commission just before the talks were scheduled to begin. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the time it was “naive” for the Biden administration to think that Moscow would engage in the talks given U.S. support for Ukraine that, in Moscow’s view, is aimed at destroying Russia.

The U.S. is providing military and economic assistance to Ukraine to push back Russian forces that invaded the country in February and has led a global campaign of sanctions against Moscow to bankrupt its ability to wage war against Kyiv.

Turner said on Tuesday the U.S. stands ready to negotiate with Russia on a new arms control treaty when New START expires in 2026, but blamed Moscow for refusing to engage.

“The United States is currently assessing the Russian Federation’s compliance with the New START Treaty, per the annual report the State Department is required to submit to the U.S. Congress. I urge the Russian Federation to fully implement its New START Treaty obligations,” he said.

The Hill has reached out to the Russian mission at the United Nations.

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