Russia and the United States are discussing resuming nuclear arms reduction negotiations in the coming weeks in the first face-to-face contact since Russian forces invaded Ukraine, the Kommersant business daily reported Tuesday, citing three unnamed sources.
The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) talks could take place in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, instead of their traditional venue of Geneva, in late November or early December, Kommersant reported.
The report follows weeks of concern over a possible Russian nuclear escalation in Ukraine fueled by President Vladimir Putin’s thinly veiled threats. Moscow later tamped down its rhetoric following reported talks with U.S. officials.
The last remaining arms reduction pact between the Cold War foes, New START is one of the few areas where Moscow and Washington have said they were open to cooperation despite tensions over the invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions.
According to Kommersant, Washington is expected to raise the resumption of on-site inspections under New START.
Moscow formally suspended physical inspections by the U.S. in August 2022 after President Joe Biden called on Russia and China to demonstrate their commitment to limiting nuclear weapons.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry indicated at the time that Western sanctions, visa restrictions and airspace closures over the war in Ukraine made it difficult for Moscow to carry out inspections on U.S. soil.
According to Kommersant, Russia and the U.S. have continued to hold remote discussions on New START in lieu of in-person talks.
At one of these remote talks last month, Kommersant reported that Moscow accused Washington of skirting the treaty’s terms by withholding weapons and sites that Russia suspects are still nuclear-capable despite their announced conversions and reclassifications.
Moscow and Washington last year extended New START, which caps the number of deployable nuclear warheads at 1,550, until Feb. 5, 2026.