The US has told Russia it would not provide Moscow with nuclear data that is meant to be exchanged twice a year under the New Start treaty after Russia suspended its participation in the agreement.
A White House National Security Council spokesperson said on Tuesday that Washington considered Russia to be in violation of its obligations under the treaty, triggering the decision.
“As a lawful countermeasure intended to encourage Russia to return to compliance with the treaty, the United States will likewise not provide its biannual data update to Russia,” the NSC spokesperson said.
“The United States informed Russia in advance of this step. In the interest of strategic stability, the United States will continue to promote public transparency on our nuclear force levels and posture,” the spokesperson added.
The US move comes amid renewed concern about nuclear tensions between Washington and Moscow. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, on Saturday said he planned to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus as frictions with the west over the war in Ukraine continue to intensify.
Putin has repeatedly made veiled threats to use nuclear weapons in attempts to ward off western military support for Ukraine, and claimed last week that the UK was escalating tensions by supplying Kyiv with armour-piercing depleted uranium rounds, which cannot cause a nuclear explosion.
Russia did not immediately respond to the US decision. Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said earlier on Wednesday that Russia was not holding any consultations with the US on the treaty.
“They are writing notes to us, protesting, and saying we don’t have the right to take the decision we took. These are all legally worthless arguments,” Lavrov said in an interview with state newswire Tass. “We completely suspended our participation in this agreement. Our readiness to adhere to the caps on strategic nuclear arms in the treaty is nothing more than a goodwill gesture.”
A US official said the decision not to exchange nuclear data was confined to the twice yearly information but Washington would continue to provide other notifications to Russia under the treaty.
The official also noted the decision was made after Russia first refused to exchange the data — and the US would be glad to provide its information if Russia abided by the agreement.
Although the White House will no longer share data with Russia, it has continued to stress it is not changing its posture in response to Putin’s bluster.
“We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture nor any indications that Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said on Monday. “We remain committed to the collective defence of the Nato alliance, but we have not seen any reason right now to change or adjust our posture.”