Russia will not rejoin nuclear treaty unless U.S. changes Ukraine stance - deputy foreign minister
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Wednesday that Moscow would not review its suspension of the New START nuclear arms treaty with the United States until the United States changed its policy on Ukraine, Interfax reported.
President Vladimir Putin last week announced that Moscow was suspending its participation in the deal, accusing the United States of trying to inflict a "strategic defeat" on Russia in Ukraine. He signed the suspension into law on Tuesday.
Interfax cited Ryabkov as saying: "Until the United States changes its behavior, until we see signs of common sense in what they are doing in relation to Ukraine ... we see no chance for the decision to suspend New START to be reviewed or re-examined".
The treaty was signed in 2010 by then-presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama to limit the number of strategic nuclear warheads each side can deploy. It was underpinned by a system of mutual inspections and exchanges of data.
The agreement - the latest in a series dating back more than half a century that halted the Cold War arms race between Washington and Moscow - is due to expire in 2026.
Military analysts say its collapse, or a failure to renew it, would increase nuclear risk at a time of heightened confrontation over the conflict in Ukraine.
Ryabkov said the two countries continued to discuss issues around the treaty via "closed channels", Interfax said.
It quoted him as saying that Russia was willing to communicate and exchange information with Washington on New START as needed, but did see any requirement for a regular dialogue at the moment.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)