Citing “unfriendly actions” by the United States, the Kremlin announced Monday that Russia has suspended a landmark agreement to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium, the latest sign of deteriorating relations between the two countries.
In a decree released by the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin issued several ultimatums, demanding that Washington reduce its military presence in NATO countries, cancel all sanctions against Russia and compensate Moscow for losses resulting from those sanctions.
The extraordinary move comes at a low point in post-Cold War relations between Moscow and Washington. The State Department on Monday said it would suspend bilateral contacts with Russia over Syria, a week after Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the United States might do so because of Russia’s aerial assault on the Syrian city of Aleppo.
The suspended nuclear accord, signed in 2000 and updated in 2010, required both countries to dispose of 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium. Russia has accused the United States of failing to meet the conditions of the deal, a charge Washington has denied.
Putin’s statement said Moscow took the action because of “the emergence of a threat to strategic stability and as a result of unfriendly actions by the United States of America towards the Russian Federation.” It also cited an “inability of the United States to ensure the implementation of its obligations to utilize surplus weapons-grade plutonium.”