Russia’s refusal to allow on-the-ground inspections to resume is jeopardizing the New START nuclear treaty and US-Russian arms control more broadly, the Biden administration charged Tuesday.

The finding was delivered to Congress and summarized in a statement from the State Department. It follows months of more hopeful US assessments that the two countries could salvage cooperation to limit strategic nuclear weapons despite heightened tensions over Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Both sides suspended inspections of US and Russian military sites under the New START treaty due to the spread of the coronavirus in March 2020. The US-Russian committee overseeing implementation of the treaty met last time in October 2021, but Russia unilaterally suspended its cooperation with the treaty’s inspection provisions in August 2022 to protest US support for Ukraine.

«Russia’s refusal to facilitate inspection activities prevents the United States from exercising important rights under the treaty and threatens the viability of US-Russia nuclear arms control,» the State Department said Tuesday.

The administration also blamed Russia for the two countries’ failure to resume talks required by the New START treaty.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said last August that it had told the US that it would temporarily suspend on-site inspections required by the treaty. He said that US sanctions imposed over Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine had changed conditions between the two countries, and claimed that the US was preventing the Russians from conducting their own inspections at US sites.

The State Department denied Tuesday that the United States was blocking inspections by the Russians.

He insisted that US and Russian nuclear arms control efforts were essential to the security of the United States, its allies, and the world at large.

“It is even more important in times of stress when guardrails and clarity are most important,” the State Department said.