The lower house of the Russian parliament on Wednesday approved President Vladimir Putin's decree on suspending a plutonium accord with the United States,Russian news agencies reported.
- The agreement was concluded in 2000 and bound the two sides to dispose of surplus plutonium originally intended for use in nuclear weapons.
- Agencies said the suspension was approved by 445 of 450 deputies in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.
- Starting in the last years of the Cold War, Russia and the United States signed a series of accords to reduce the size of their nuclear arsenals, agreements that have so far survived intact despite a souring of U.S.-Russian relations under Putin.
- Putin recently issued a decree suspending an agreement, concluded in 2000, which bound the two sides to dispose of surplus plutonium originally intended for use in nuclear weapons.
(MOSCOW) - The Kremlin said it was taking that action in response to unfriendly acts by Washington. It made the announcement shortly before Washington said it was suspending talks with Russia on trying to end the violence in Syria.
The plutonium accord is not the cornerstone of post-Cold War U.S.-Russia disarmament, and the practical implications from the suspension will be limited. But the suspension, and the linkage to disagreements on other issues, carries powerful symbolism.
"Putin's decree could signal that other nuclear disarmament cooperation deals between the United States and Russia are at risk of being undermined," Stratfor, a U.S.-based consultancy, said in a commentary.
"The decision is likely an attempt to convey to Washington the price of cutting off dialogue on Syria and other issues."
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement on Monday that bilateral contacts with Moscow over Syria were being suspended. Kirby said Russia had failed to live up to its commitments under a ceasefire agreement.
Western diplomats say an end to the Syria talks leaves Moscow free to pursue its military operation in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but without a way to disentangle itself from a conflict which shows no sign of ending.
Russia and the United States are also at loggerheads over Ukraine. Washington, along with Europe, imposed sanctions on Russia after it annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014 and backed pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Reuters contribution by Alexander Winning; Writing by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Andrew Osborn