The Biden administration is seeking to draw Russia to the negotiating table to discuss nuclear arms control, after President Vladimir Putin suspended Russia’s participation in the agreement earlier this year.
The US is hoping to reimplement the deal and negotiate a follow-on agreement after it expires in 2026. So far these efforts have been rebuffed.
However, the US will on Friday couple a major speech by national security adviser Jake Sullivan with a move to withhold information from Russia that would have been shared as part of the key nuclear arms control agreement between the two countries.
“We're hoping in the aggregate, this sort of communication we're doing through this speech, the countermeasures, and any sort of potential follow up bilaterally is going to lead to the discussion,” a senior administration official told reporters.
“Of course, that takes two to tango.”
The official said the Biden administration was willing to engage in talks with Russia without preconditions.
The countermeasures that the US is putting into place on Friday include: US withholding notifications under the treaty such as the location of missiles and launchers included in the treaty and some day-to-day notifications movements of US nuclear forces.
The State Department on Thursday expressed the US’ willingness to reverse the actions taken if Russia came back into compliance with the treaty.
The Biden administration’s efforts to focus on nuclear nonproliferation come as some Republican lawmakers have urged the administration to evaluate the current and planned US nuclear force. For now, the US has not made any announcements about changing the size of its nuclear force.
Some context: Putin announced in February that he would suspend his country’s participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with the United States, which imperiled the last remaining pact that regulates the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals.
The treaty puts limits on the number of deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons that both the US and Russia can have. It was last extended in early 2021 for five years, meaning the two sides would soon need to begin negotiating on another arms control agreement.
Under the key nuclear arms control treaty, both the United States and Russia are permitted to conduct inspections of each other’s weapons sites, though inspections had been halted since 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But only hours after Putin announced his decision in a speech, Russia’s foreign ministry said the decision to suspend participation in the treaty was reversible.
Recent developments: Since then, however, Putin said he plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, the neighboring ally from which he staged part of his February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
Moscow will complete the construction of a special storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus by the end of July, Putin told state broadcaster Russia 1 last week.