Reply by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova to a media question on US claims regarding Russia’s reluctance to continue nuclear disarmament

April 5, 2016

Question: In his remarks at the end of the Nuclear Security Summit that took place in Washington last week, Barack Obama effectively accused Russia of being reluctant to continue the process of nuclear disarmament below the ceilings established by the Russia-US Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Is it true that we refuse to discuss the issue with the Americans?

Maria Zakharova
: Let’s look at reality. To this end, I propose looking at the facts. We have never dodged a dialogue on strategic stability and arms control. Back in 2013, when Barack Obama was going to visit Moscow, a joint document was drafted that was supposed to reflect aspects of further collaboration in this area. However, the visit was cancelled by Washington. Then, citing the events in Ukraine and around Crimea, the United States froze all working channels of interaction with Russia, scaling down the activity of a joint presidential commission and terminating bilateral defence contacts. The relations between our countries worsened dramatically due to the US’s targeted, destructive actions under the pretext of Russian aggression. What’s more, all of this is accompanied by mounting anti-Russia rhetoric.

Nevertheless, we are still willing to conduct a substantive conversation with the Americans on strategic issues even though their efforts have created an atmosphere that is far from conducive to such dialogue. A full-scale discussion will only be possible if Washington is guided by the fundamental principles of equality, taking mutual interests into account and while causing no threats to the security of other states. So far this is not what we are seeing.

In addition, the progress of the disarmament agenda is compounded by a number of negative military strategic factors. These include, above all, the Pentagon’s intensive military preparations in close proximity to Russian borders, specifically the ongoing deployment of the US missile-defence system in Eastern Europe. The updated strategy of the US European Command describes Russia as a global challenge requiring a global response while its top priority is the containment of Russian aggression. Moreover, the present US administration has launched the biggest modernisation of the US nuclear arsenals since the end of the Cold War. Spending under this programme in the next decade is put at $350 billion and in 30 years is expected to exceed $1 trillion.

All of this goes to show that Washington is engaged in serious military planning and development that is directed against Russia. This strategy is written in official documents and backed by impressive funding.

We cannot treat our own security lightly and should, without doubt, take all these variables into account. We act on the premise that a discussion of further nuclear arms cuts should proceed by taking into consideration all factors impacting strategic stability, such as the creation of the US global missile-defence system, the development of US strategic offensive nonnuclear weapons as part of Prompt Global Strike, the threat of weapons being deployed in space and the growing quantitative and qualitative imbalance in conventional weapons.

In addition, we believe that with the implementation of the START Treaty the possibilities for bilateral reductions with the US will be exhausted. It is essential to look for ways to involve the other states that have nuclear capability, above all Washington and NATO allies, in the nuclear disarmament process.

Russia’s fundamental approaches are well known to its US partners, who, incidentally, take a rather selective approach towards arms control. For example, they block the signing of an international treaty on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space; they have not ratified the CTBT; they carry out joint nuclear missions with nonnuclear NATO countries in violation of the NPT, and so on.

Unfortunately, the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament is the result of the destructive and even openly hostile line followed by the Obama administration with regard to Russia.