Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’ response to a Rossiya Segodnya question on the future of Russian-US nuclear reduction talks

February 6, 2016

Question: Can you comment on the White House’s urge to launch talks on further reducing nuclear weapons?

Sergey Ryabkov: Russia’s stand on the possibility of resuming talks on the reduction of strategic nuclear weapons and nuclear reduction in general has not changed. We have reached a stage where Russian-American nuclear reduction talks are impossible for several reasons. First, we have reduced the number of nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles to a late 1950s or early 1960s level. This fact must be taken into consideration, not only by our Washington colleagues, but also by those members of the international community who, disregarding the facts, continue to advocate the continued reduction of nuclear weapons. Russia’s stand is based on the belief that all countries with nuclear weapons capability should be involved in this dialogue. These countries are well aware of what this means. The bilateral Russian-US track has exhausted its potential in terms of nuclear weapons arithmetic.

The second reason we can’t discuss further reductions is Washington’s destabilising activities such as the creation of a global BMD system and research into conventional preemptive weapons with a strategic range. I’m referring to the Prompt Global Strike programme. In addition, we are seriously alarmed by the possible transfer of the arms race to outer space, and we therefore insist that a legally binding document be drafted to ban the deployment of attack weapons in outer space. We are also worried about imbalances, the number of which has not diminished, in the sphere of conventional armaments. Another problem is the lack of progress, through the fault of the United States, in the enforcement of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). We have several more concerns.

The third issue we need to highlight in light of Washington’s “reminders” is the complete absence of political logic or common sense in a disarmament proposal when the current US administration has been working consistently and for a long time to undermine Russia’s defence and industrial potential through its policy of sanctions. It appears that the attempts to weaken Russia through sanctions, which have so far failed, have not stopped, but at the same time Russia is being urged to discuss further arms reductions. This is not how this should be done. We cannot seriously consider a proposal that amounts to playing a one-sided game or rather, a game with no rules or with rules that are arbitrarily changed in Washington.

If, and when, all of the above circumstances change and our concerns and priorities are taken into account, which means the development of a situation in which all sides can be guaranteed equal security and all sides can strengthen their security based on a sovereign equality of states, then and only then, but no sooner, will it be possible to consider discussing nuclear reduction.