In a state-of-the-nation speech, Putin announced the suspension of Russia’s participation in the New START nuclear arms control pact with the US, citing Western double-dealing in Ukraine as the reason. Russia, however, emphasized that it is not withdrawing from the pact yet, and would continue to respect its terms.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the suspension of Russia’s participation in the last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the United States, the 2010 New START, in his state-of-the-nation speech on Tuesday. He cited Western double-dealing in Ukraine as the reason for the move, and cast his country and Ukraine as victims of this double-dealing.
Despite the suspension, Putin emphasized that Russia would still respect the treaty’s caps on nuclear weapons, and would continue to exchange information about test launches of ballistic missiles per earlier agreements with the United States. The New START limits the number of nuclear weapons and envisages broad inspections of nuclear sites. Putin added that Russia should stand ready to resume nuclear weapons tests if the U.S. does so, which would end the global ban on such tests in place since the Cold War era.
The U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for Russia and the United States to return to dialogue immediately because “a world without nuclear arms control is a far more dangerous and unstable one”. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described Moscow’s decision to suspend participation in the treaty as “really unfortunate and very irresponsible”. Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun called on the U.S. and Russia to “continue to negotiate with each other in finding a good solution”.
Putin’s announcement followed Blinken’s warning to China over the weekend that providing arms and ammunition to Russia would be a “serious problem.” Although the deputy head of Ukraine’s intelligence service has not seen any signs that China is providing weapons to Moscow. Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, made a dash toward Kyiv, and has since become bogged down elsewhere. The war has revived the divide between Russia and the West, reinvigorated the NATO alliance, and created the biggest threat to Putin’s rule of more than two decades.
Putin denies any wrongdoing in Ukraine, even after Russian forces have been accused of striking civilian targets, including hospitals, and committing war crimes. In his speech, he accused the West of taking aim at Russian culture, religion, and values, and said that Western sanctions hadn’t “achieved anything and will not achieve anything.” He fired another broadside at Western gender policies that he described as efforts to destroy “traditional” values.