Russia has rejected U.S. President Barack Obama’s call for deeper cuts in nuclear weapons, dismissing it as misleading and not serious.
Speaking in Berlin on Wednesday Mr. Obama proposed that the U.S. and Russia cut “deployed nuclear weapons by up to one-third”, down from the limit of 1,550 warheads imposed by the 2010 New Start Treaty.
Moscow, however, has scoffed at the idea.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the Kremlin could not “take seriously” Mr. Obama’s nuclear cuts proposal while the U.S. was developing its global missile shield.
“How can we take seriously the idea of cuts in strategic nuclear weapons while the United States is building up its capabilities to intercept these nuclear weapons?” asked Mr. Rogozin, who oversees the defence sector.
Ignoring the linkage between offensive and defensive capabilities “means either engaging in blunt lying, bluffing and deception, or demonstrating profound incompetence”, Mr. Rogozin told reporters after a government meeting on military space programme.
President Vladimir Putin, who chaired the meeting, highlighted rapid progress in high-precision conventional weapons, which is another Russian argument against further nuclear arms cuts.
“Countries possessing these systems greatly increase their offensive potential,” Mr. Putin said. “At the same time we are well aware that the United States is pushing forward with the deployment of a strategic missile defence system.”
“We cannot allow the balance of the system of strategic deterrence to be upset [and] the effectiveness of our nuclear force to be eroded,” the Russian leader said in remarks posted on the Kremlin website.
Summing up the Russian position Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said any talks on further nuclear cuts must cover missile defence and non-nuclear precision weapons, and must be multilateral.
“Given all these conditions, we can discuss further reductions, not in bilateral format but with the participation of other countries possessing nuclear weapons,” Mr. Lavrov said.