Why Russia won't attend upcoming nuclear summit

Russia's Foreign Ministry said that Moscow will focus instead on expanding cooperation within the International Atomic Energy Agency, a UN nuclear watchdog.

Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service/RIA-Novosti/AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the Lifegiving Trinity Church in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014.

Russia said Wednesday it has decided not to engage in preparations for a nuclear summit in Washington, arguing that it serves little purpose and gives too much weight to the US.

The statement was the first confirmation by Moscow that it intends to snub the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. US and European officials have earlier told The Associated Press that Moscow refused to participate.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in the statement that the three previous such summits have largely fulfilled the set goals and the new meeting could add little value to that. It also argued that the US has tried to assume the role of "the main and privileged player" at the forum.

The ministry claimed that the US along with the Netherlands and South Korea that hosted the previous summits would play a dominant role in preparing the summit's documents, something that Moscow considers unfair. It also argued that the final documents of the Washington summit would set the agenda for international organizations, an approach Russia considers wrong.

"We believe it's unacceptable to create a precedent of such outside interference into planning the work of international organizations, which have a more solid expertise and rely on democratic procedures," the statement said.

The ministry said that Moscow will focus instead on expanding cooperation within the International Atomic Energy Agency, a UN nuclear watchdog.

It said that Russia had informed the US about its decision in mid-October, adding that it saw the leaks in the media as an attempt to force Moscow to change its stance. The relations between Moscow and Washington are at their lowest point since Cold War times over Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for insurgents in eastern Ukraine.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday that Russia informed the US that it no longer planned to participate in the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit.

She added, however, that "the United States and Russia continue to work productively on nuclear security issues through other channels," pointing at their participation in Iran nuclear talks and joint efforts to help eliminate chemical weapons in Syria.

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