RUSSIA SARMAT ICBM TEST
© Sputnik / Press Service of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian FederationA Sarmat ICBM test launch from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in Russia.
The breakdown in the relationship with the US makes contacts even on an issue as vital as the strategic balance of power nearly impossible, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has told the Izvestia newspaper. The last surviving bilateral nuclear arms reduction treaty is likely to expire, leading to a possible arms race, he predicted in an interview published on Wednesday.

New START, the latest iteration of a series of agreements that limited Moscow's and Washington's nuclear arsenals, was last renewed 'as is' in January 2021, days after Joe Biden was inaugurated as US president. Moscow suspended its participation in the agreement in February, citing US involvement in the Ukraine conflict and Kiev's attacks on Russian air bases hosting strategic bombers.

At this point, there is "no option" to continue New START or replace it, after it expires in February 2026, Ryabkov said.

"We have to take into account the level of hostility of our opponents and their reckless drive to pump the Kiev regime with all kinds of weapons," he explained, calling the situation "the opposite to what we've always aimed for."

Ryabkov suggested that people in Washington may be looking for a new arms race, similar to the one that President Ronald Reagan triggered with the Strategic Defense Initiative. His proposal was to create an advanced anti-ballistic missile system that could stop a Soviet nuclear strike - consequently exposing America's Cold War opponent to an undeterred US attack.

The technologies required for such a system were far from maturity, but the threat pushed Moscow to overextend military spending. If the Americans hope to repeat Reagan's deception, they are wrong, Ryabkov said.

"We will not fall for provocations, which are a feature of American politics on the Russian track; we will guarantee our security," the diplomat promised.

He also remarked that Russia sees no need for any treaties on nuclear weapons with China, considering that the two nations have reached a "perfect understanding on all issues."

"What we have is enough, and we are happy with it," he noted.

Officials from the administration of President Donald Trump claimed that they wanted a trilateral agreement with Russia and China to replace New START, when they argued against renewing it.

They also cited a need to confront China, when the US announced in 2018 an intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty, another nuclear arms control treaty with Russia that banned both sides from fielding intermediate-range land-based missiles.