Russian envoy accuses UK of violating nuclear treaty obligations

Gavin Cordon, PA Whitehall Editor
·3-min read

The Russian ambassador to Britain has accused the Government of violating its international treaty obligations by raising the cap on its stockpile of nuclear warheads.

Andrei Kelin said the announcement in the Integrated Review of foreign and defence policy that it was raising the limit from 180 warheads to 260 had come as a “big surprise”.

In an interview with LBC’s Swarbrick On Sunday programme, he said the review had offered no justification for its description of Russia as an “acute threat” and that the political relationship between London and Moscow was now “nearly dead”.

Mr Kelin expressed bafflement at the decision to lift the cap on the nuclear stockpile, saying it violated the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty – a claim which the Government has denied.

“If UK is going to continue to raise a number of nuclear warheads, and this was a big surprise for the whole world, I will say even for the American experts. So they think ‘UK, what are you doing?'” he said.

“You are increasing a number of warheads by 40%. This is a violation of the treaty of non-proliferation and many, many other agreements that are saying only a decline or a reduction in the number of nukes.”

Mr Kelin said the claims Russia represented a threat to the UK “boil down” to the poisoning in Salisbury of the former spy Sergei Skripal which, he said, lacked “substance or information” and was “all false”.

“In the review, there are 14 times Russia (is) mentioned as an acute threat to the United Kingdom. But there is no single proof or explanation to any kind of a formulation,” he said.

“In some places, Russia has been accused as being a threat, well, for its cultural influence in truth.”

He said Moscow had on a number occasions offered to discuss issues such as cyber but had always been rebuffed by the UK.

“We have said let’s sit down and talk about that. But no response. If other things are worrying Britain, let us sit down at the table and discuss what it is, what are the concerns,” he said.

“But if you will read, thoroughly, this integrated concept, you will see that there is no mentioning of a dialogue at all about Russia. Accusations, accusations, accusations. This is very different from other strategic papers.”

He said the attitude of the British Government had effectively “demolished” most of the relationship with Russia.

“We are preserving it mainly in the economic field and cultural field. But as for political field, it is nearly dead,” he said.

In response to the ambassadors comments, a Government spokesman said: “The Integrated Review sets out the Government’s vision of the UK’s role in the world through to 2030.

“Modernising and strengthening the UK’s security and nuclear deterrence is a key part of this and we can best protect ourselves and our Nato allies by the continued operation of a minimum, credible, independent nuclear deterrent.”