Russia Responds to U.S. Saying It Broke Nuclear Treaty

The Russian ambassador to the United States on Wednesday hit back at allegations made by the U.S. State Department that Russia violated a nuclear arms agreement between the two countries.

On Tuesday, the State Department submitted a report to Congress that accused Russia of breaching the terms of the New START Treaty. The last remaining nuclear arms agreement between the countries, New START permits the U.S. and Russia to conduct inspections of each other's weapons sites. According to the State Department, Russia has rejected on-site inspections of nuclear facilities and compliance talks.

"Russia has a clear path for returning to full compliance. All Russia needs to do is allow inspection activities on its territory, just as it did for years under the New START Treaty, and meet in a session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission. There is nothing preventing Russian inspectors from traveling to the United States and conducting inspections," a State Department spokesperson told Newsweek.

In an interview with the Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti, Ambassador Anatoly Antonov called the State Department accusations "sensational" and claimed that the U.S. violated the accord. His comments also referenced Russia's war in Ukraine, which Moscow has claimed is a "hybrid war" conducted by the U.S. and other Western nations.

"We have repeatedly pointed out to Washington that the situation around START is a direct result of the hybrid war unleashed by the West against our country," Antonov said in the interview, portions of which were shared on the Russian Embassy's Facebook page.

Putin and Anatoly Antonov
Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with the Vologda region governor at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on January 30, 2023. In inset, Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov during a discussion at the Woodrow Wilson Institute on November 18, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Antonov on Wednesday rejected accusations from the U.S. that Russia violated a nuclear arms treaty. Photo by Mikhail KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK / AFP/Mark Wilson/Getty Images

"We warned them that arms control could not be isolated from geopolitical realities. In the current conditions, we consider it unjustified, untimely and inappropriate to invite the U.S. military to our strategic facilities."

The New START Treaty, formally named Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, was originally signed by then-Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in 2010. The agreement followed the START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) treaty, which aimed to reduce strategic offensive arms and dated to the final days of the Soviet Union.

A group of Republican lawmakers—Senators Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Deb Fischer of Nebraska, along with Representatives Mike Rogers of Alabama and Doug Lamborn of Colorado—released a statement condemning Russia for allegedly violating the treaty following Tuesday's report from the State Department.

"Russia must be held accountable for its actions if the New START Treaty, or any future agreement, is to have any meaning at all. If these agreements cannot be enforced, then they do nothing to enhance U.S. security, and serve only to undermine it," the statement read in part.

Despite the report from the State Department, Antonov told RIA Novosti that Moscow remains committed to the treaty, calling the agreement a "useful tool" for relations between nuclear powers.

However, he added, "There can be no progress on arms control without the United States reconsidering its policy of inflicting strategic defeat on Russia."

Last week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also commented on the treaty in an interview with the Russian newspaper Kommersant. He said that the treaty had become "frozen" after the U.S. refused Russia's requests for security guarantees in 2021.

"We can say that as a result of Washington's actions, arms control has become a hostage to the overall deep degradation of our bilateral relations," Ryabkov said.

Meanwhile, a State Department spokesperson told Newsweek that the U.S. continues to value the treaty.

"The United States continues to view nuclear arms control as an indispensable means of strengthening U.S., ally, and global security. It is all the more important during times of tension when guardrails and clarity matter most," the spokesperson said. "The United States remains ready to work constructively with Russia to fully implement the New START Treaty."

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Embassy for comment.

Update 02/02/23 4:00 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to include comments from a U.S. State Department spokesperson.