US Extends Carrier Deployment After Syria Attack

USS George H.W. Bush supercarrier of the United States Navy ( US Army)
USS George H.W. Bush supercarrier of the United States Navy ( US Army)
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US Extends Carrier Deployment After Syria Attack

USS George H.W. Bush supercarrier of the United States Navy ( US Army)
USS George H.W. Bush supercarrier of the United States Navy ( US Army)

The United States has decided to extend the deployment of the George H.W. Bush carrier strike group to provide options to policymakers after last week's deadly attacks in Syria by Iran-backed forces, US military officials said on Friday.

The decision likely means the Bush strike group and its more than 5,000 US forces, which are now in the European Command operational area, will not be returning to home port in the United States on schedule.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesperson Colonel Joe Buccino confirmed the carrier group's extension, Reuters reported.

"The extension of the George HW Bush Carrier Strike Group, inclusive of the USS Leyte Gulf, the USS Delbert D. Black, and the USNS Arctic, allows options to potentially bolster the capabilities of CENTCOM to respond to a range of contingencies in the Middle East," Buccino said in a statement.

Buccino also noted a scheduled, expedited deployment of a squadron of A-10 attack aircraft to the region.

One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Bush strike group was expected to remain in the European Command area of responsibility.

News of the deployment came a day after the Pentagon doubled its tally of the number of American troops wounded in last week's attacks in Syria to 12, following the diagnosis of six US military personnel with traumatic brain injuries.

The attacks also killed an American contractor and injured another.

President Joe Biden warned Iran last week that the United States would act forcefully to protect Americans. The Pentagon has estimated eight militants were killed during retaliatory US airstrikes against two Iran-linked facilities in Syria during the tit-for-tat exchanges triggered by the first March 23 attack against a US base near the Syrian city of Hasakah.

The White House said on Monday that the incidents would not trigger a US pullback from the nearly eight-year-old US deployment to Syria, where American troops and local Kurdish-led partners are battling the remnants of ISIS.

Still, the United States has formally prioritized in its national security policies Russia, Ukraine and the Asia-Pacific above the Middle East after two decades of US intervention in the region during its global war against terrorism.

That has led to an overall decline in US military personnel and assets in the Middle East.



5 Drones Shot Downed in Crimea's Dzhankoi

Firefighters work at a house on fire following a shelling, which, according to the regional governor, was by Ukrainian forces, in the village of Sobolevka, Belgorod region, Russia, in this handout image released June 2, 2023. Governor of Russia's Belgorod Region Vyacheslav Gladkov via Telegram/Handout via REUTERS
Firefighters work at a house on fire following a shelling, which, according to the regional governor, was by Ukrainian forces, in the village of Sobolevka, Belgorod region, Russia, in this handout image released June 2, 2023. Governor of Russia's Belgorod Region Vyacheslav Gladkov via Telegram/Handout via REUTERS
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5 Drones Shot Downed in Crimea's Dzhankoi

Firefighters work at a house on fire following a shelling, which, according to the regional governor, was by Ukrainian forces, in the village of Sobolevka, Belgorod region, Russia, in this handout image released June 2, 2023. Governor of Russia's Belgorod Region Vyacheslav Gladkov via Telegram/Handout via REUTERS
Firefighters work at a house on fire following a shelling, which, according to the regional governor, was by Ukrainian forces, in the village of Sobolevka, Belgorod region, Russia, in this handout image released June 2, 2023. Governor of Russia's Belgorod Region Vyacheslav Gladkov via Telegram/Handout via REUTERS

Five drones were shot down and four were jammed and did not hit their targets in Dzhankoi in Crimea, a Russian-installed official in the peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014 said on Sunday.

There were no casualties but windows were broken in several houses, Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-backed head of Crimea's administration, said on the Telegram messaging app.

He added that one unexploded drone was found on the territory of a residential house, forcing the temporary evacuation of about 50 people in the area.

Reuters could not independently verify the report.

Russia has a military air base near Dzhankoi. Ukrainian officials have long said the city and surrounding areas have been turned into Moscow's largest military base in Crimea.


US Says 'Unsafe' Action by China Near American Ship In Taiwan Strait

  American destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (FILE/Reuters)
American destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (FILE/Reuters)
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US Says 'Unsafe' Action by China Near American Ship In Taiwan Strait

  American destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (FILE/Reuters)
American destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (FILE/Reuters)

A Chinese Navy ship maneuvered in an "unsafe manner" near an American destroyer transiting the Taiwan Strait, the US military said Saturday.

It is the second close encounter between American and Chinese military assets in less than 10 days, following what the US military said was an "unnecessarily aggressive maneuver" by one of Beijing's fighter's near one of Washington's surveillance planes last week.

The Chinese ship "executed maneuvers in an unsafe manner in the vicinity of Chung-Hoon," an American destroyer, during the Saturday transit, the US Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) said in a statement.

Beijing's ship "overtook Chung-Hoon on their port side and crossed their bow at 150 yards. Chung-Hoon maintained course and slowed to 10 (knots) to avoid a collision," the statement said, AFP reported.

It then "crossed Chung-Hoon's bow a second time starboard to port at 2,000 yards (meters) and remained off Chung-Hoon's port bow," coming within 150 yards at the closest point, the US military said, adding that the "US military flies, sails, and operates safely and responsibly anywhere international law allows."

The incident occurred as the Chung-Hoon sailed through the Taiwan Strait with a Canadian warship in a joint mission through the sensitive waterway that separates self-ruled Taiwan from China.

The Chinese military said it had monitored the passage, but made no mention of a close encounter.

"The relevant countries are intentionally creating trouble in the Taiwan Strait, deliberately stirring up risks, and maliciously undermining regional peace and stability," said Senior Colonel Shi Yi, the spokesman of China's Eastern Theatre Command.

US warships frequently sail through the strait. The last joint US-Canada passage was in September 2022.

China claims Taiwan as its territory -- vowing to take it one day, by force if necessary -- and has in recent years ramped up military and political pressure on the island.

The Taiwan Strait ship encounter followed what the US military characterized as a risky maneuver by a Chinese jet that "flew directly in front of and within 400 feet of the nose" of an RC-135 surveillance plane on May 26 over the South China Sea.

Beijing blamed US "provocation," with a foreign ministry spokeswoman saying the "United States' long-term and frequent sending of ships and planes to conduct close surveillance on China seriously harms China's national sovereignty and security."


Russian Missile Attack on Dnipro Kills 2-year-old, Injures 22

A handout photo made available by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine shows Ukrainian rescuers work on a place of rocket hit in the Dnipro area, central Ukraine, late 03 June 2023, amid the Russian invasion. EPA/STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE / HANDOUT
A handout photo made available by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine shows Ukrainian rescuers work on a place of rocket hit in the Dnipro area, central Ukraine, late 03 June 2023, amid the Russian invasion. EPA/STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE / HANDOUT
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Russian Missile Attack on Dnipro Kills 2-year-old, Injures 22

A handout photo made available by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine shows Ukrainian rescuers work on a place of rocket hit in the Dnipro area, central Ukraine, late 03 June 2023, amid the Russian invasion. EPA/STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE / HANDOUT
A handout photo made available by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine shows Ukrainian rescuers work on a place of rocket hit in the Dnipro area, central Ukraine, late 03 June 2023, amid the Russian invasion. EPA/STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE / HANDOUT

A 2-year-old girl was killed and 22 people injured, including five children, when a Russian missile struck near the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, the regional governor said on Sunday.
"Overnight, the body of a girl who had just turned two was pulled from under the rubble of a house," Serhiy Lysak wrote on the Telegram messaging channel.
Seventeen people were being treated in hospital after the attack on a residential area by Iskander short-range cruise missiles, Reuters quoted Lysak as saying.
Reuters could not independently verify the report. There was no immediate reaction from Moscow.
Mykola Lukashuk, head of the Dnipropetrovsk region council, said 17 children have died in the region since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
"No words can soothe the pain of parents who have lost the most precious thing in their lives," Lukashuk said.
The war has killed at least 485 children in Ukraine and injured nearly 1,500, the country's Office of the Prosecutor General said on Sunday on Telegram.
The missile hit between two two-story residential buildings in the Pidhorodnenska community, partially destroying them and damaging a number of houses, cars and infrastructure, Lysak said.
"Once again, Russia proves it is a terrorist state," Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote on Saturday after the first reports of the explosions.
Moscow and Kyiv deny their military forces target civilians.
Pictures posted on social media showed rescue teams working at a shattered, smoldering building amid piles of twisted building materials.
Following the attack in Dnipro, Russia launched a new wave of overnight air strikes on the country. Ukraine's air force said on Sunday it destroyed more than half of the air targets.
Four of the six cruise missiles and three of the five Iranian-made Shahed drones launched by Russia were downed, the air force said on Telegram.
Kyiv's city military administration earlier said all Russia-launched targets approaching the capital had been intercepted. It was not immediately clear where the missiles and drones that were not destroyed hit.
Russia has repeatedly attacked Ukraine's capital since May, chiefly at night, ahead of a long-expected Ukrainian counteroffensive to reclaim territory, in what Ukrainian officials say is an attempt to inflict psychological distress on civilians.


US Says Will Continue to Support a Civilian Government in Sudan

Sudanese army touring a Khartoum neighborhood (AFP)
Sudanese army touring a Khartoum neighborhood (AFP)
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US Says Will Continue to Support a Civilian Government in Sudan

Sudanese army touring a Khartoum neighborhood (AFP)
Sudanese army touring a Khartoum neighborhood (AFP)

The United States affirmed its support of the Sudanese people's demand for a civilian government and the resumption of Sudan's disrupted democratic transition.

Washington warned that the ongoing fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) threatened the people of Sudan with the prospect of a protracted conflict and widespread suffering.

The US Embassy in Khartoum issued a statement asserting that Washington will continue to hold the belligerent parties accountable for their unconscionable violence and blatant disregard for the will of the Sudanese people.

The statement added that every day hostilities continue, the parties hinder the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those who need it most, destroy key infrastructure, and deny the aspirations of the Sudanese people for freedom, peace, and justice.

Meanwhile, violent clashes erupted in Khartoum as people commemorated the fourth anniversary of the forceful dispersal of the sit-in on June 3, 2019, during which the army general command killed hundreds and injured thousands of others.

It marks the second day in a row of clashes with heavy weapons, after the collapse of the Jeddah cease-fire agreement signed by the two warring parties, with Saudi-US mediation, amid the deterioration of the humanitarian situation and the increasing number of displaced people.

Clashes renewed in the old Omdurman and south of Khartoum, and explosions were heard in the cities and around vital and strategic locations.

Residents of Khartoum reported that the army's warplanes had bombed areas in the south of Khartoum, and the RSF units responded using ground anti-aircraft missiles.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese Red Crescent announced the burial of 180 unidentified persons after the bodies piled up in the streets and people's inability to go out to bury them.


NKorean Leader's Sister Vows 2nd Attempt to Launch Spy Satellite, Slams UN Meeting

Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. AP
Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. AP
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NKorean Leader's Sister Vows 2nd Attempt to Launch Spy Satellite, Slams UN Meeting

Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. AP
Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. AP

The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed again Sunday to push for a second attempt to launch a spy satellite as she lambasted a UN Security Council meeting over the North’s first, failed launch.

The North’s attempt to put its first military spy satellite into orbit last Wednesday failed as its rocket crashed off the Korean Peninsula’s western coast. An emergency meeting of the UN Security Council was still convened at the request of the US, Japan and other countries to discuss the launch because it had violated council resolutions banning the North from performing any launch using ballistic technology.

On Sunday, Kim’s sister and senior ruling party official, Kim Yo Jong, called the UN council “a political appendage” of the United States, saying its recent meeting was convened following America's “gangster-like request.”

She accused the UN council of being “discriminative and rude” because it only takes issue with the North’s satellite launches while thousands of satellites launched by other countries are already operating in space. She said her country’s attempt to acquire a spy satellite is a legitimate step to respond to military threats posed by the US and its allies.

“(North Korea) will continue to take proactive measures to exercise all the lawful rights of a sovereign state, including the one to a military reconnaissance satellite launch,” Kim Yo Jong said in a statement carried by state media.

In her earlier statement Friday, Kim Yo Jong said the North’s spy satellite “will be correctly put on space orbit in the near future" but didn't say when its second launch attempt would take place.

South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers Wednesday it will likely take “more than several weeks” for North Korea to learn the cause of the failed launch but it may attempt a second launch soon if defects aren’t serious.

Washington, Seoul and others criticized the North’s satellite launch for raising international tensions and urged it to return to talks.


Financial Times: Rob Malley Holds Direct Talks with Iran’s UN Ambassador

US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley (File photo/AFP)
US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley (File photo/AFP)
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Financial Times: Rob Malley Holds Direct Talks with Iran’s UN Ambassador

US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley (File photo/AFP)
US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley (File photo/AFP)

US’s Iran envoy Rob Malley has met several times with Iran’s UN ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani, amid reports that the 2015 nuclear accord “is not on the US government's agenda”, The Financial Times reported.

The discussions focused primarily on the possibility of a prisoner exchange with Iran, a person close to the administration said. Tehran holds at least three US-Iranian nationals

Tehran last week agreed to a prisoner exchange with Belgium and separately released two Austrians held in Iran. A successful US prisoner exchange could improve the environment for any nuclear talks.

Diplomats and analysts say potential options include some form of interim deal, or a de-escalatory move by both sides under which Iran reduces its enrichment levels in return for some sanctions relief.

According to The Financial Times, US and EU powers have resumed discussions on how to engage with Iran over its nuclear activity "as fears mount that the Tehran's aggressive expansion of its program risks triggering a regional war."

“There is recognition that we need an active diplomatic plan to tackle Iran’s nuclear program, rather than allowing it to drift,” said a western diplomat to the newspaper.

“The thing that worries me is that Iran’s decision-making is quite chaotic and it could stumble its way into war with Israel,” he added.

Iran has been enriching uranium to 60 per cent purity, and in January the International Atomic Energy Agency discovered particles enriched to about 84 per cent, which is almost weapons grade, at the Fordow plant.

IAEA also said that Iran’s estimated stockpile of enriched uranium had reached more than 23 times the limit set out in nuclear deal.

As of 13 May, Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile was estimated at 4,744.5 kilograms (10,459 pounds). The limit in the 2015 deal was 202.8 kilograms.

The report also said that Iran is continuing its enrichment of uranium to levels higher than the 3.67 percent limit in the deal, AFP reported.

The stockpile of uranium enriched up to 20 percent is now believed to be 470.9 kilograms — up 36.2 kg since the last report in February — while the amount enriched up to 60 percent stands at 114.1 kilograms, an increase of 26.6 kg.

 

 


NATO Member Türkiye to Send Troops to Kosovo amid Unrest in the North

A US member of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) stands guard in an armored vehicle outside municipal offices in Leposavic, Kosovo, June 2, 2023. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski/File Photo
A US member of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) stands guard in an armored vehicle outside municipal offices in Leposavic, Kosovo, June 2, 2023. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski/File Photo
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NATO Member Türkiye to Send Troops to Kosovo amid Unrest in the North

A US member of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) stands guard in an armored vehicle outside municipal offices in Leposavic, Kosovo, June 2, 2023. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski/File Photo
A US member of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) stands guard in an armored vehicle outside municipal offices in Leposavic, Kosovo, June 2, 2023. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski/File Photo

Türkiye plans to send commandos to Kosovo on Sunday and Monday in response to a NATO request to join the alliance's KFOR peacekeeping force following unrest in the north of the country, the Turkish defense ministry said.

In a statement on Saturday, the ministry called for restraint and constructive dialogue to resolve a crisis that it said could harm regional security and stability.

"Our assigned unit (a commando battalion) is planned to be deployed to ... Kosovo on June 4-5," the ministry said.

A political crisis that has spiraled into violence in Kosovo's north has intensified since ethnic Albanian mayors took office in the region's Serb-majority area, which led the US and its allies to rebuke Pristina. The majority Serb population had boycotted the April election, allowing ethnic Albanians to be elected.

In violence on Monday, 30 peacekeepers and 52 Serbs who protested against the installation of the mayors were injured. The violence prompted NATO to announce it would send additional troops on top of 700 already on their way to the Balkan country to boost its 4,000 strong mission.


Counter-Offensive on Track Despite Russian Missile Barrages, Says Ukrainian Defense Official

A Ukrainian serviceman walks in a trench at a position near the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 30, 2023. (Reuters)
A Ukrainian serviceman walks in a trench at a position near the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 30, 2023. (Reuters)
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Counter-Offensive on Track Despite Russian Missile Barrages, Says Ukrainian Defense Official

A Ukrainian serviceman walks in a trench at a position near the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 30, 2023. (Reuters)
A Ukrainian serviceman walks in a trench at a position near the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine May 30, 2023. (Reuters)

Ukraine's plans for a counteroffensive against Russian occupation remain on track, its deputy defense minister told Reuters on Saturday, despite an "unprecedented" wave of missile and drone attacks across the country in recent weeks.

Volodymyr V. Havrylov said that alongside cruise missile strikes, Ukraine had faced repeated volleys of ballistic missiles in May, especially in urban centers including the capital, Kyiv.

"Their primary goal is to stop our counter-offensive and target decision-making centers," he said on the sidelines of Asia's top security conference, the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

Havrylov called Russia's heavy use of ballistic missiles in May a "last strategic resort" and noted that his country's air defense systems had been "more than 90 percent effective" against the attacks.

For Russia "it was a huge surprise to find that the effectiveness of (their ballistic missiles) was almost zero against modern air defense systems, which we received from our partners," he said.

The United States and Germany provided Ukraine advanced Patriot missile batteries this year. Ukraine had already received advanced shorter-range systems such as NASAMS and IRIS-T from Western partners.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday his country was ready to launch a much-awaited counter-offensive. Havrylov said the missile barrages had not affected the timing.

"Nothing can stop our efforts, our desire, and our confidence that we'll win this war," he said.

Ukraine will "start the counter-offensive, with the ambition to liberate our territories this year," he added.

Moscow calls the invasion, which began in February 2022, a "special operation."

Havrylov declined to comment about recent drone attacks and border incursions into Russian territory, including some strikes that reached near Moscow.

"They (Russia) have a lot of internal events that are of course linked to this war," he said. "We have a lot of people inside Russia who support Ukraine."

The two countries have accused each other of spreading terror in their respective capitals with air strikes.

Havrylov, who joined defense and military officials from all over the world at the Singapore meeting, said Ukraine expects NATO allies to provide a detailed roadmap to membership at the defense pact's summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next month.

"We want to see a clear... set of steps to be taken by both sides," he said. "Not just an indication that the door is open."

He added that Ukraine also expected guarantees of security to be provided while the country is in a "transition period" on the way to membership.

He dismissed a proposal by Indonesia's defense minister at the Singapore meetings to establish a demilitarized zone to halt the fighting in Ukraine, saying: "We are not going to negotiate any deal related to loss of our territory, including Crimea."

Havrylov praised the recent supply of British Storm Shadow cruise missiles, which British defense minister Ben Wallace said on Friday had not missed any targets Ukraine had attacked. The addition of modern fighter aircraft such as F-16s would improve the country's air defense capabilities, Havrylov said.

He said he could not comment on whether Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb, another long-range strike weapon Western allies have provided this year, had been used in combat yet.

Ukraine has had good meetings and discussions with many countries, including Asian nations, at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Havrylov said.

"We want to engage with everybody," he said.


Canada Facing Rising Threat from Cyberattacks

A computer keyboard lit by a displayed cyber code is seen in this illustration picture taken on March 1, 2017. (Reuters)
A computer keyboard lit by a displayed cyber code is seen in this illustration picture taken on March 1, 2017. (Reuters)
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Canada Facing Rising Threat from Cyberattacks

A computer keyboard lit by a displayed cyber code is seen in this illustration picture taken on March 1, 2017. (Reuters)
A computer keyboard lit by a displayed cyber code is seen in this illustration picture taken on March 1, 2017. (Reuters)

Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand said on Saturday that the country's critical infrastructure was increasingly being targeted by cyberattacks, posing a significant threat to the economy of the world's fourth-largest crude oil producer.

The US State Department warned last month that China was capable of launching cyberattacks against oil and gas pipelines and rail systems, after researchers discovered a Chinese hacking group had been spying on such networks, Reuters said.

In an interview on the sidelines of an Asian security summit in Singapore, Anand said there had been an increase in cyberattacks across North America, although she did not attribute the strikes to any state-sponsored actors.

"We have seen attacks on critical infrastructure in our country and we are very conscious to advise Canadian organizations and Canadian companies to take mitigation measures," Anand said.

"The risks can be substantial to our economy and systems that are protecting the lives of our citizens."

Canada is home to a number of large oil pipelines that are important for global crude supplies. Multinational energy companies like Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell have major operations in the country.

Anand was speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia's top security meeting, where rising tensions between the United States and China have dominated proceedings.

Chinese military officials have accused the US and its allies of using the conference to gang up on Beijing and open divisions in the Asia-Pacific region.

"We have to keep our eyes wide open on China. They have become an increasingly disruptive global power," Anand said when asked about China's complaints.


Russia to Come Back to START if US Abandons Its ‘Hostile Stance’, Says Foreign Ministry

In this handout photo released by the State Duma, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov addresses lawmakers during a session at the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (The State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament via AP)
In this handout photo released by the State Duma, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov addresses lawmakers during a session at the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (The State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament via AP)
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Russia to Come Back to START if US Abandons Its ‘Hostile Stance’, Says Foreign Ministry

In this handout photo released by the State Duma, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov addresses lawmakers during a session at the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (The State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament via AP)
In this handout photo released by the State Duma, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov addresses lawmakers during a session at the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (The State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament via AP)

Russia will come back to full compliance with the New START treaty if Washington abandons its "hostile stance" toward Moscow, Russian news agencies reported, citing Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

The United States said earlier this week that it would stop providing Russia some notifications required under the arms control treaty, including updates on its missile and launcher locations, to retaliate for Moscow's "ongoing violations" of the accord.

According to Ryabkov, the move didn't come as a surprise to Moscow, and Russia's decision to suspend the New START treaty stands despite any counter-measures.

"Regardless of any measures or countermeasures from the US side, our decision to suspend the START Treaty is unshakable," the TASS news agency quoted him as saying.

"And our own condition for returning to a fully operational treaty is for the US to abandon its fundamentally hostile stance toward Russia."