Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will be suspending its participation in the New START treaty, the last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the United States. Putin’s statement increases tensions with Washington over the conflict in Ukraine. He also warned that Russia should stand ready to resume nuclear weapons testing if the United States does so, a move that would end a global ban on nuclear weapons tests put in place since the Cold War era.
In his state of the nation address, Putin accused the United States and its NATO allies of openly declaring the goal of Russia’s defeat in Ukraine. Putin argued that while the US has pushed for the resumption of inspections of Russian nuclear facilities under the treaty, NATO allies had helped Ukraine mount drone attacks on Russian air bases hosting nuclear-capable strategic bombers. “The drones used for it were equipped and modernized with NATO’s expert assistance,” And now they want to inspect our defense facilities?” Putin said.
The announcement drew criticism from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who called it “deeply unfortunate and irresponsible.” “We’ll be watching carefully to see what Russia actually does,” he told reporters travelling with him in Greece. “We’ll of course make sure that in any event, we are postured appropriately for the security of our own country and that of our allies.”
The New START treaty, signed in 2010 by US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. The agreement envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance. Russia and the US agreed to extend the treaty for another five years, just days before it was due to expire in February 2021.
Russia and the US have suspended mutual inspections under New START since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Moscow last fall refused to allow their resumption, raising uncertainty about the pact’s future. Russia also indefinitely postponed a planned round of consultations under the treaty.
Read more about The New START Treaty: https://thelegalaffair.com/understanding-the-new-start-treaty-between-russia-usa/