Nuclear disarmament talks between Russia and the United States set to take place this week have been postponed, according to Moscow’s foreign ministry and the US Embassy.
Officials from the two countries were due to meet in the Egyptian capital of Cairo from November 29 to December 6 to discuss resuming inspections under the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, which had been suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The previously scheduled session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission under the US-Russia New START Treaty in Cairo (November 29-December 6) will not take place on those dates,” the ministry said on Monday. “The event is postponed to a later date.”
It gave no reason, although the US Embassy was quoted by the Kommersant newspaper as saying the decision had been Russia’s.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov had played down expectations of a breakthrough, although the talks were a sign that both sides at least wanted to maintain dialogue, even though relations are at their lowest level since the Cold War.
Russia in August suspended cooperation with inspections under the treaty, blaming travel restrictions imposed by Washington and its allies over Moscow’s February invasion of Ukraine, but said it was still committed to complying with the provisions of the treaty.
US Department of State Spokesperson Ned Price said earlier in November that Washington hoped the November-December talks would allow the resumption of the inspections.
“We’ve made clear to Russia that measures imposed as a result of Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine don’t prevent Russian inspectors from conducting New START Treaty inspections in the United States. So we hope that the meeting of the BCC will allow us to continue with those inspections,” he said.
New START, which took effect in 2011, caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the US and Russia can deploy, and the deployment of land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.
The Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC), which is meant to meet twice a year, last met in October 2021, shortly before Russia began moving forces to its border with Ukraine.