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Russia to continue voluntary notifications with US for missile launches — senior diplomat

Sergey Ryabkov also stressed that the Russian side had made its position clear to Washington both verbally and in writing in the form of a note

MOSCOW, March 30. /TASS/. All kinds of information exchanges under the New START Treaty have been suspended by Moscow, but the Russian side will continue notifying the United States about missile launches on a voluntary basis, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters on Thursday.

"From a political and legal point of view, the situation is such that we have suspended all kinds of information exchanges, as well as other elements of verification activities under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. However, as it was stated back in February, on a voluntary basis, the Russian Federation will adhere to the central quantitative limits on strategic nuclear weapons set by the treaty, and will also continue to abide by the 1988 agreement on mutual notifications on missile launches," the deputy minister pointed out.

He also stressed that the Russian side had made its position clear to Washington both verbally and in writing in the form of a note. "There is no ambiguity here," the diplomat went on to say. "If they had, as part of their procedures, which I understand are different from ours, suspended in whole or in part, which is also possible, the implementation of the treaty, then they probably would have had the right not to give us the notifications. But since they did not do that, we assume that by their decision not to pass data to us within the framework of the biannual data exchange, they violated their commitments under the New START Treaty," Ryabkov explained.

Data exchange under New START

On Tuesday, Vedant Patel, Principal Deputy Spokesperson for the US Department of State, said that the US refused to share the semi-annual report on the New START with Russia in retaliation for its suspension of participation in the treaty. According to the spokesman, this move was supposed to push Russia to return to the implementation of the treaty. At the same time, Patel stressed that Washington continued to provide Moscow with notifications on the treaty. The refusal to provide Russia with information only related to the semi-annual report.

Also on Tuesday, John Plumb, the first Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, said that the United States got in touch with Russia last week to discuss data exchange, but was spurned.

Later, White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby said that the US had no desire to stop exchanging information on the New START with Russia, but Washington needed Moscow’s consent to return to mutual transfer of information.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly that Moscow was suspending its participation in the New START treaty but was not withdrawing from it. The head of state emphasized that before resuming discussions about further activities under the treaty, Russia needed to figure out for itself how the arsenals of NATO’s other nuclear-weapons countries, the UK and France, would be taken into account along with US capacities. On March 1, the Russian leader signed a law to suspend Russia's participation in the New START.