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At last minute, Moscow postpones planned consultations with Washington on strategic arms limits

Source: Kommersant

Moscow has canceled a planned meeting of the New START treaty’s bilateral consultative commission, which was scheduled to begin tomorrow in Cairo, running from November 29 to December 6. Officials from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow told the newspaper Kommersant, “The Russian side informed the United States that Russia has unilaterally postponed the meeting and stated that it would propose new dates.” Russia’s Foreign Ministry also confirmed this information, but it provided no explanation.

According to Andrey Baklitskiy, a nuclear arms control and nonproliferation expert at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research, the Cairo meeting’s cancelation “doesn’t mean New START is in immediate danger,” but “it does spell trouble” and raise questions about the treaty’s future, given that “we are now in a completely different world” due to the war in Ukraine.

Last year, Russia and the U.S. extended the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty until February 2026, but there have been no inspections under the treaty since the winter of 2020 (first because of the coronavirus pandemic and later because of travel restrictions imposed after Moscow’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine). New START imposes limits on the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers each side can deploy, but it does not restrict the number of operationally inactive nuclear warheads that can be stockpiled.

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