Moscow’s top diplomat has again petitioned Washington to join an agreement to mutually forego the use of nuclear weapons, an effort that has so far produced no response.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made the latest call Tuesday at the international Primakov Readings summit in Moscow, urging that Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump come together to reassure the international community that nuclear warfare was not an option as historic non-proliferation measures between them fell victim to geopolitical tensions. Should such weapons of mass destruction ever be used, Lavrov warned everyone would lose.
“In political terms, of course, it is of fundamental importance that Russia and the United States calm the rest of the world and adopt a joint declaration at the highest level that a nuclear war cannot be won, and therefore it is unacceptable and inadmissible,” Lavrov said.
He said the U.S. and the Soviet Union had previously come to such a conclusion and he could “not understand why this position cannot be reaffirmed under the current conditions,” noting that the current proposal was so far only “being considered by the American side.”
In his March testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, U.S. Strategic Command chief Air Force General John Earl Hyten stated that “nuclear war cannot be won and therefore must never be fought.” At the same time, he warned extensively about Russia’s and China’s growing nuclear capabilities, using that to justify the U.S.’ own modified Nuclear Posture Review, which Lavrov and other Russian officials have claimed lowered the threshold for the use of such weapons.
Neither figures in Moscow nor Washington have expressed a desire for an all-out nuclear conflict between the two countries with the world’s top largest stockpiles. But there are anxieties on both sides stemming from the development of low-yield nuclear weapons, which, while less destructive, may be more readily used in the event of a crisis. And landmark measures intended to limit the U.S. and Russia’s arsenals have begun to fail.