Bbabo NET


The meeting of the commission on the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Arms (START) was postponed indefinitely

Ukraine, Conflict in Donbass (, - The meeting of the Russian-American Advisory Commission on the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty (START), which was supposed to be held November 29-December 6 in Cairo, failed. Kommersant writes about this, citing a source at the US Embassy.

"The Russian side has informed the United States that it has unilaterally postponed the meeting and has said it will propose new dates," the US embassy in Moscow said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed the information, adding that "the event is being postponed to a later date." The reason for the postponement of the event in the Russian Foreign Ministry was not named.

Recall that the meeting of the advisory commission is the first since the beginning of the Russian military operation in Ukraine. Its holding would mean that, despite the tough confrontation, the Russian Federation and the United States are ready to discuss issues in areas of common interest, in this case, in the field of arms control. Previously, similar events were held in Geneva. However, Moscow no longer considers Switzerland, which has joined most of the Western sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation, a neutral state and does not want to hold meetings with third parties there.

Cairo was chosen as the new venue for the commission's meeting under START. The Russian delegation of the Russian Federation was to be headed by Deputy Director of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control (DNKV) of the Russian Foreign Ministry Vladimir Leontiev.

It should be noted that the START provides for regular mutual inspections at ICBM bases, strategic submarine bases and strategic aviation air bases, as well as at loading, storage, repair and test sites. From 2011 to 2020, the parties carried out 328 such checks. Since 2020, they - by mutual agreement - have not been held due to the epidemic of coronavirus infection.

However, in the summer of 2022, Washington, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, notified Moscow of its plans to send its inspectors to the Russian Federation "on a whim", which the Russian side regarded as "an outright provocation." After that, the Russian Federation officially announced the suspension of inspections under the START. At the same time, it followed from Sergey Ryabkov's comment that one of the obstacles to the resumption of inspections was a tough confrontation between the Russian Federation and the United States over Ukraine.

Since then, the United States has repeatedly stated its desire to resume mutual checks: Washington is also interested in the latest Russian weapons systems that fall under START. Russia, in turn, made it clear that it was ready to discuss this issue, but only if its concerns were removed. Judging by the recent publication of the former head of the American delegation to the START negotiations, Rose Gottemoeller, who now teaches at Stanford University, progress has been made on some aspects by the parties.

“For several months, the leaders of the bilateral consultative commission maintained covert contacts. Question, they have been working to implement procedures and protocols that would allow START inspections to resume,” she wrote in an article for The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on November 23. “For example, since commercial flights between Russia and the United States were suspended after Russian invasion of Ukraine, they had to take measures to ensure the travel of Russian inspectors to the United States and vice versa.

Gottemoeller expressed her hope that the success of the consultations in Cairo will allow the parties to lay the groundwork for a return to the discussion of more global issues, including a treaty that could replace START after its expiration in 2026. However, officials of the Russian Federation and the United States have not yet reported on progress in resolving visa and logistical difficulties.

Moscow also has claims against Washington under the START — they relate to the issue of the irreversibility of the conversion of weapons withdrawn from the count. After another exchange of summary data, the Russian Foreign Ministry noted in October that the number of strategic offensive weapons declared by the United States does not take into account the 41 B-52H heavy bombers, which the American side declared converted, and the nuclear warheads counted for them, 56 Trident II SLBM launchers , as well as four silo launchers of ICBMs designed for training, renamed "training silos". The department doubted that these units were indeed brought by the American side "into a state unsuitable for the use of nuclear weapons."

At the same time, the question of the possible reversibility of the conversion has been discussed by Moscow and Washington for more than a year. In the course of the previous consultations, the parties even seem to have reached mutually acceptable solutions, which, however, apparently, have not yet been implemented in practice.“The main question now is how the American side will react,” said Andrei Baklitsky, senior fellow at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). “Despite the absence of inspections in the past two years, the Biden administration confirmed that Moscow is fully complying with its obligations under the START, and called the issue of resuming inspections technical.”

The United States, according to the expert, can continue this course and try to resolve differences at the working level, or they can accuse Russia of not fulfilling the treaty.

The meeting of the commission on the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Arms (START) was postponed indefinitely