Fears Grow That Russia May Leave Nuclear Test Ban Treaty


Russian lawmakers will evaluate whether to revoke ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the speaker of the lower house of parliament said Friday.

Vyacheslav Volodin’s statement came after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Moscow could consider rescinding the ratification of the international pact, since the United States never ratified it.

“It conforms with our national interests,” Volodin said. “And it will come as a quid pro quo response to the United States, which has still failed to ratify the treaty.”

The 1996 treaty prohibiting “any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion” anywhere in the world has been signed by 187 nations, but the U.S. and seven others haven’t ratified it.

“It would be concerning and deeply unfortunate if any state signatory were to reconsider its ratification of the CTBT,” Robert Floyd, chairman of the commission that promotes support for the treaty, said in a statement.

There are widespread concerns that Russia could move to resume nuclear tests to try to discourage the West from continuing to offer military support to Ukraine.

Volodin said senior lawmakers would discuss recalling the 2000 ratification of the treaty at the next meeting of the agenda-setting house council. 

“Washington and Brussels have unleashed a war against our country,” Volodin said. “Today’s challenges require new decisions.”

Asked Friday if rescinding the ban could lead to the resumption of tests, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that “it doesn’t mean a statement about the intention to resume nuclear tests.”

Peskov noted that a possible move to revoke Russia’s ratification of the pact would “bring the situation to a common denominator” with the U.S.

Speaking Thursday at a forum with foreign affairs experts, Putin said that while some experts have talked about the need to conduct nuclear tests, he hasn’t yet formed an opinion on the issue.

“I’m not ready to say yet whether it’s necessary for us to conduct tests or not,” he said.

Kharkiv attacks

The U.N. and partners mobilized humanitarian assistance — including medical supplies and health support, shelter maintenance kits, nonfood items, cash and hygiene assistance — as well as mental health and psychosocial support after Russian strikes Thursday and Friday killed at least 54 civilians in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, said Denise Brown, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine.

“These are barbaric consequences of this war, that 20% of the community can be wiped out in seconds,” Brown said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

A missile strike killed a 10-year-old boy and his grandmother Friday in the same region where at least 52 people, including a child, were killed Thursday.

Ukrainian officials bitterly condemned Thursday’s attack, which blew apart a cafe where a wake was being held.

The Associated Press reported that after the attack in the eastern village of Hroza, “body parts were strewn across a nearby children’s playground that was severely damaged by the strike.”

Kharkiv Governor Oleh Syniehubov told the BBC, “One-fifth of this village has died in a single terrorist attack.” 

“Today, Russian terrorists launched an attack that one can’t even call ‘beastly,’” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday night in his daily address, “because it would be an insult to beasts.”

‘Depravity’ of Russian forces

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told the BBC that the attack on Hroza “demonstrated the depths of depravity Russian forces are willing to sink to.”

The wake was being held for a soldier from Hroza who died last year. He was being reburied in his hometown.

Officials posted footage on the Telegram messaging app of rescue workers clambering through smoldering rubble. Bodies lay alongside slabs of concrete and twisted metal. 

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military said Thursday that it had destroyed 24 of 29 drones Russians launched at the Odesa, Mykolaiv and Kirovohrad regions. 

The Hroza attack occurred as Zelenskyy was in Spain lobbying Western allies at a summit of about 50 European leaders for more military assistance to thwart Russian aggression.

Ukraine defense aid

Zelenskyy said in his daily address that there were now “clear agreements” with his European allies for more air defense systems, which would be “crucial as we approach winter.” He also said there were deals for more artillery and long-range weapons. 

Russia targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure last winter, leading to widespread power outages, effectively an attempt to demoralize Ukrainians during the coldest and darkest months of the year. Over time, the infrastructure was restored, but now Ukraine fears more infrastructure attacks are in the offing as winter approaches.

“The main challenge that we have is to save unity in Europe,” Zelenskyy told reporters as he arrived for talks in Granada.

Zelenskyy said it was important for Ukraine to have a “defending shield for the winter,” with Russia expected to carry out many attacks with missiles and Iranian drones.

He also cited what he said was 100% support from U.S. President Joe Biden as well as bipartisan support from the U.S. Congress, days after approval of a short-term funding deal that excluded additional aid for Ukraine.

Biden called key Western allies Tuesday to reassure them of continued American military support for Ukraine after a group of congressional Republicans forced the exclusion of immediate new funding for Kyiv in the spending bill.

The White House said Biden spoke with the leaders of Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania, Britain, the European Union and NATO, along with the foreign minister of France.


The VOA is the Voice of America

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