Russia turns down US arms control talks

Moscow called the proposal unacceptable due to Western support for Ukraine.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov holds an annual press conference in Moscow, Russia, January 18, 2024. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/ File Photo

On Thursday, Russia publicly rejected the U.S. proposal for arms control talks, citing the U.S.’ support for Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed dissatisfaction with the suggested separation of the Ukraine issue from discussions on “strategic stability” talks related to arms control. Lavrov deemed the proposal unacceptable due to Western support for Ukraine and accused the West of conducting a “hybrid war” against Moscow.

Although he didn’t rule out the possibility of future arms control talks, he emphasized the condition that such discussions would depend on the West abandoning its policy of undermining and not respecting Russia’s interests.

Lavrov stated at a news conference, “We do not see the slightest interest on the part of either the United States or NATO to settle the Ukrainian conflict and listen to Russia’s concerns,” while leaving room for Moscow’s position to evolve in the future.

In response, a senior White House official in Washington acknowledged Russia’s current stance but suggested a potential change of mind as the February 2026 expiration of the New START treaty approaches. However, he highlighted the uncertainty of Russia’s willingness to engage in discussions about a New START successor or returning to compliance with the existing treaty.

The New START treaty, signed in 2010, limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads that both Russia and the United States can deploy. With the treaty set to expire, concerns arise about the absence of a nuclear arms agreement between the two nations, especially given the heightened tensions reminiscent of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

Lavrov also accused the West of encouraging Ukraine to use increasingly long-range weapons for strikes deep inside Russia, although he provided no evidence to support this claim. The treaty’s potential lapse adds complexity to an already strained relationship between Russia and the United States.

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