Monday, January 30, 2023
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Russia postpones negotiations with US over new START treaty to prevent nuclear disaster


The Russian Foreign Ministry told RIA that a meeting with the US on negotiations over START will be postponed. “The session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission on the Russian-American START Treaty, previously scheduled in Cairo (November 29 – December 6), will not take place on the dates indicated. The event is postponed to a later date,” the ministry said.

Officials from both countries were meant to meet in Egypt from November 29 to December 6 to discuss the nuclear arms control agreement.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov confirmed the dates and location of the meeting to discuss the New START agreement last week.

The treaty provides that Washington and Moscow conduct inspections of each other’s weapons sites. It was last expended in early 2021 for five years.

The inspections have, however, been suspended since 2020 ove the coronavirus pandemic.

And when the US attempted to resume them earlier this year, complications arose over the war in Ukraine.

“We believe deeply, around the world, in the transformative power and the importance of diplomacy and dialogue,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a briefing last week.

“When it comes to Russia, of course, we are clear-eyed, we’re realistic about what dialogue between the United States and Russia can – both what it can entail and what it can accomplish.

“We – we have focused on risk reduction in these conversations, but we’ve been very intentional about seeing to it that the ability of our two countries to pass messages back and forth and to engage in dialogue has not, does not atrophy.”

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The unilateral decision comes as Ukraine prepared for more Russian strikes on Monday and warned of the possibility for a new round of evacuations from the capital during a relative lull from the airstrikes on energy facilities and other key infrastructure in recent weeks.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russian troops “are preparing new strikes and as long as they have missiles, they won’t stop.”

“The upcoming week can be as hard as the one passed,” he said.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt visited the capital, Kyiv, Monday and said it was “a desperate situation that we are now witnessing. Many here face a grim choice: to flee or to freeze. The Russian warfare is unparalleled cynicism.”

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said that part of the city’s 3 million people might well have to be evacuated to places where essential services would be less prone to shutdowns caused by missile attacks.

Russia has pounded energy facilities around Kyiv with a barrage of missile strikes, resulting in power outages and halts in water supplies to the city.

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And with temperatures hovering around freezing, and expected to dip as low as minus 11C (12 Fahrenheit) in little more than a week, international help was increasingly focused on items like generators and autotransformers, to make sure blackouts that affect everything from kitchens to operating rooms are as limited and short as possible.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “continues trying to make Ukraine a black hole — no light, no electricity, no heating to put the Ukrainians into the darkness and the cold,” said European foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. “So we have to continue our support providing more material for the Ukrainians to face the winter without electricity.”

Borrell was leading a meeting of EU ministers that would specifically “look at the Ukrainian war from the point of view of a humanitarian crisis.”

Over the next three days NATO top officials and foreign ministers will be gathering in Bucharest, Romania, where such humanitarian aspects will also be assessed.

Russia also denied that it had plans to withdraw from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, which it has occupied since the early days of the war.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a call with reporters that it was pointless to look for signs of a pullback from the plant “when there are none and there can’t be.”

Peskov’s comments were in response to Ukrainian claims that the Russian forces were bound to retreat from the plant as they face a continuing Ukrainian counteroffensive.

The plant has been shut down following repeated shelling, for which Russia and Ukraine have traded blame. The UN nuclear watchdog and international leaders have urged Russia to demilitarise the plant to avoid a nuclear disaster, but Moscow has rejected the demands, arguing that it needs to maintain troops there to ensure its safety.



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