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Paris, London urge Moscow to return to compliance with New START treaty

The sides also expressed concern "over Russia’s announcement that it will ensure its preparedness to conduct a nuclear test

PARIS, March 11. /TASS/. France and the United Kingdom view the Russian-US New START treaty on strategic weapons an important instrument of nuclear arms control and call on Russia to resume its participation in the deal, the two nations said in a joint statement.

The France - United Kingdom Summit took place in Paris on Friday for the first time since 2018. The pause in top-level bilateral meetings was caused by worsening relations between Paris and London and a number of disagreements, including on migration policy.

"France and the United Kingdom <…> regret Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in the New START Treaty, an essential instrument of nuclear arms control and strategic stability. They urge Russia to immediately return to full compliance with the Treaty.," Paris and London said in a joint statement, issued after the meeting of French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

"France and the United Kingdom recalled in this context their commitment to the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races and called on Russia to recommit in words and deeds to the principles and commitments enshrined in this Joint Statement," the document says.

The sides also expressed concern "over Russia’s announcement that it will ensure its preparedness to conduct a nuclear test." In this context, they "reiterated the importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty," which Russia has signed and ratified, and of "Russia’s compliance with its moratorium on nuclear tests."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his February 21 address to the Federal Assembly that Moscow would suspend its participation in the Russian-US New START treaty, which provides for reduction of both countries’ nuclear arsenals. He emphasized that Russia wouldn’t withdraw from it competely. The Russian leader said that before returning to discussions on compliance with the treaty, Russia should understand how the arsenals of not only the United States, but also other NATO nuclear powers — the UK and France — will be accounted for by the document. Putin signed a bill on withdrawing from the agreement on March 1.

In the same speech, Putin instructed the Defense Ministry to get ready for staging nuclear tests, if necessary. Russia will not be the first to conduct them, though, he added.