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I accelerate charged particle $A$ causing virtual photons to travel to distant charged particle $B$ which feels an electromagnetic force proportional to $A$'s acceleration (for a classical field description of this effect see Feynman Lectures vol 1 ch. 28 Eqn 28.6).

Virtual photons conserve momentum and energy between the two charged particles.

Is there an inertia-like reaction force back at particle $A$ due to its electromagnetic interaction with particle $B$?

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The first obvious answer is yes, of course. How could it be otherwise? Momentum is conserved.

But it depends on how you divide up the world. Charged particle A is getting accelerated by something. That doesn't just happen for no reason. Charged particle B interacts both with charged particle A and also with whatever is accelerating A. It's the whole system that conserves momentum, not just A and B.

A and B may not conserve momentum when you just consider them alone, and ignore whatever is accelerating A.

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  • $\begingroup$ I put charged particle $A$ inside a heavy charged hollow insulator along with some apparatus that produces an EM field local to particle $A$. Will particle $A$ move as though its inertia has been altered due to its interaction with the charged insulator? $\endgroup$ – John Eastmond Mar 3 at 8:41

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