Russia suspends its participation in the main nuclear weapons treaty with the United States
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that Moscow would suspend its participation in the New START treaty – the last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the United States – sharply upping the ante amid tensions with Washington over the fighting in Ukraine.
In his state of the nation address, Putin also said Russia should stand ready to resume nuclear weapons testing if the United States does, a move that would end a global ban on nuclear weapons tests in place since the times of the Cold War. .
Explaining his decision to suspend Russia’s New START obligations, Putin accused the United States and its NATO allies of openly declaring the goal of defeating Russia in Ukraine.
“They want to inflict a ‘strategic defeat’ on us and try to reach our nuclear facilities at the same time,” he said.
Putin argued that while the United States has pressed for the resumption of inspections of Russian nuclear facilities under the treaty, NATO allies have helped Ukraine launch drone strikes on Russian air bases hosting nuclear strategic bombers.
“The drones used were equipped and modernized with the help of NATO experts,” Putin said. “And now they want to inspect our defense facilities? In the conditions of today’s confrontation, this looks like complete nonsense.”
Putin stressed that Russia is suspending its participation in New Start and has not yet completely withdrawn from the agreement.
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 launchers. The agreement provides for extensive on-site inspections to verify compliance.
A few days before the treaty expires in February 2021, Russia and the United States agreed to extend it for another five years.
Russia and the United States have suspended mutual inspections under the New START treaty since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Moscow last fall refused to allow them to resume, creating uncertainty about the future of the pact.
Russia also indefinitely postponed a planned round of consultations under the treaty.
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