Russia suspends its participation in the nuclear New START treaty with the United States and will test new nuclear weapons if the Americans do so. It was the only major announcement from President Vladimir Putin’s annual address to the Russian parliament.
Putin argues that he is forced to take this step because the West may have more nuclear weapons than Russia.
The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) limits the number of nuclear weapons Russia and the United States are allowed to stockpile. Putin has said that Russia has not fully withdrawn from the agreement, but that it will not comply with it for the time being.
The New START Treaty was signed in Prague in 2010 and entered into force the following year. In 2021, after the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, it was extended for another five years. It is the last operational arms reduction agreement between two nuclear powers.
According to experts, Putin’s latest move will make it difficult to verify Russia’s continued compliance with New START.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called the Russian suspension “deeply unfortunate and irresponsible”. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia to reconsider the decision.
Conclusion of studies
Putin said he would not allow NATO countries to inspect Russia’s nuclear weapons. According to the Russian president, the military alliance is helping Ukraine with drone strikes against Russian air bases, where the bombers are part of the country’s nuclear deterrent force.
“Suspending the treaty is not the same as withdrawing from the treaty. I assume that Russia will not allow its weapons to grow beyond the limits of the treaty,” Andrey Baklitsky of the UN Institute for Nuclear Disarmament Research wrote on Twitter. “But there will be very little opportunity to confirm that, so there will be controversy over whether Russia is fulfilling its obligations.”
Putin’s announcement may primarily be a warning to the US and NATO. This is not the first time Putin has started talking about nuclear weapons since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He knows that hints of nuclear weapons cause unease in the West.
Russia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world. Experts estimate that there are about six thousand nuclear weapons.
The speech mainly consists of ‘greatest hits’
Putin’s announcement came at the end of a one-and-a-half-hour speech in the Russian parliament discussing the country’s situation.
Putin went on a diatribe in the West, often on familiar topics, discussing Russia’s economy and domestic policy.
According to the Russian president, “Russia’s survival is at stake” and the Russian military will achieve its goals in Ukraine. He did not comment on the difficult course of the war in which hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers were killed or wounded and the Russian armed forces were currently making little progress.
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