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Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov: Freezing of Strategic Dialogue with US Multiplies Risks

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned on Monday that the freezing by the US of the dialogue on strategic stability multiplies the risks.

“We note with regret that at the moment the strategic dialogue between Russia and the US, which have the largest nuclear arsenals (…) remains frozen by Washington,” Lavrov said in a video message to the participants of the Moscow Conference on Nuclear Non-Proliferation.

The head of Russian diplomacy recalled that the latest tangible result of the joint efforts of Russia and the US was the agreement to extend the START III or New START strategic arms reduction treaty by five years until February 5, 2026.

“It is clear that due to the absence of any negotiating work to maintain strategic stability, the existing problems will accumulate. That may entail a multiplication of risks,” he said.

Lavrov stressed that the US and NATO policy aiming de facto at an armed conflict with Russia represents a “serious threat”.

“It is clear that this can lead to direct conflict between nuclear powers with catastrophic consequences,” he stressed.

The minister said that Moscow is obliged to periodically send “warning signals” about this situation.

“But instead of paying attention to these, the West maliciously misrepresents them and accuses us of using threat rhetoric,” he said.

The US suspended dialogue on arms control following Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.

Russia in turn informed Washington in August of its decision to ban US on-site inspections of its nuclear weapons arsenal, claiming difficulties in doing the same in the US due to Western sanctions on overflight permits and visas for Russian officials.

Prior to the resumption of the dialogue last November 29 in Egypt, Russia unilaterally postponed the meetings of the bilateral consultative commission with the US on New START.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Riabkov explained this decision by the US “unwillingness” to take Russian priorities into account and by focusing solely on its desire to resume inspection of the Russian arsenal.