A senior Russian diplomat warned Thursday that increasing Western support for Ukraine could trigger an open conflict between the nuclear powers.
Speaking at the UN conference on disarmament, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov criticized the US and its allies for openly declaring their intention to defeat Russia in a “hybrid” war, arguing that it violates their obligations under international agreements and is full of war in Ukraine spill out of control.
Ryabkov warned that “the policy of the US and NATO to escalate the conflict in Ukraine” and their “increasing involvement in the military confrontation is full of direct military confrontation with nuclear powers with catastrophic consequences.”
He emphasized that the move by Russian President Vladimir Putin to suspend the 2010 New START treaty, the last remaining nuclear weapons agreement with the US was a response to the actions of the US and NATO in Ukraine.
Putin announced the end of Moscow’s participation in New START in his state-of-the-nation address last week. He argued that Moscow would not accept US inspections of Russia’s nuclear sites as envisioned in the agreement when Washington and its NATO allies openly stated Russia’s defeat in Ukraine as their goal.
The Russian president noted that Moscow is not withdrawing completely from the agreement, and Ryabkov also confirmed on Thursday that Russia will respect the caps on nuclear weapons set under the agreement.
Ryabkov also blamed the US for the failure to approve a global ban on nuclear weapons and reaffirmed Putin’s warning that Moscow would resume nuclear tests if the US did so.
“The US effectively bears responsibility for the fact that the agreement has not been implemented more than a quarter century after it was signed,” he said, adding that “the US has clearly shown an intention to continue those test.”
“We cannot stand idly by,” Ryabkov said, adding that if the US conducts a nuclear test, “we will be forced to respond.”
“No one has dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be destroyed,” Ryabkov added.
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