The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that US demands to continue inspections under the New START nuclear arms control treaty are “cynical”, given Washington’s support for Ukraine.

In remarks published by Russian news agencies, the ministry also warned that Washington’s actions toward Moscow posed a “real risk” of direct military conflict between the two nuclear powers, the RIA news agency reported.

Negotiations between Moscow and Washington on the continuation of inspections under the New START agreement were planned for last November, but were canceled at the last minute.

Russia said last week it wants to preserve New START, the last nuclear deal with the US, despite what it says is a destructive US approach to arms control.

– The Russian side reaffirms its unchanged commitment to the New START agreement as an important instrument for maintaining international security and stability – the RIA news agency quoted the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday.

New START entered into force in 2011 and was extended for another five years in 2021. It limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads the US and Russia can deploy, as well as their deployment on land, in the submarines and bombers that deliver them.

Together, Russia and the US have 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads. The future of New START has taken on new importance at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed the two countries closer to direct conflict than they have been in 60 years.

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