- Putin has said Russia will stop participating in major nuclear arms control agreements with the United States.
- Without a New START Agreement and nuclear weapons control, the US and Russia could expand their nuclear arsenals.
- The situation was “bad, could get worse, and probably will get worse,” said one UN researcher.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that Russia would suspend its participation in the New START Treaty. This is the last major nuclear disarmament deal between the United States and Russia.
The treaty limits the number of long-range ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy from their respective arsenals, but Russia’s move could threaten those limits. said the move could significantly reduce information exchange between the two countries and usher in a “dangerous new nuclear age”.
In his annual speech, Putin said the decision was linked to U.S. and NATO involvement in Russia’s war in Ukraine through actions such as broad economic sanctions and the consistent supply of security support to Kiev. said that he is
“They are trying to inflict us a ‘strategic defeat’ and at the same time reach our nuclear facilities,” the Russian president said in a speech, The Associated Press reportHe added that the decision was also influenced by what is said to be a series of NATO-backed Ukrainian drone strikes against Russian bases that host strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
Putin’s announcement was immediately condemned by Western officials such as Secretary of State Antony Brinken, who called the move “extremely unfortunate and irresponsible.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “The world becomes more dangerous with more nuclear weapons and weaker arms control.” It is why we have worked so hard on , why our NATO allies have supported New START, and why I am today calling on Russia to reconsider its decision to suspend its participation. New START Agreement.”
What is the New START Treaty?
of New START Treaty It entered into force between Russia and the United States in 2011 and was extended for another five years in 2021. The agreement will limit the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear warheads and heavy bombers deployed in the US and Russian arsenals.
By February 2018, the United States and Russia reached the core limits of the agreement.according to U.S. Department of Statethe two countries limit deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers armed with nuclear weapons to 700.
Also, the number of deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bomber nuclear warheads cannot exceed 1,550.
The agreement also allows the two countries to inspect each other’s weapons facilities, which was suspended in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent years, the United States has attempted to resume inspections, but US officials said last month that Russia had repeatedly refused to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities, thus failing to comply with the terms of the New START Treaty.
“By refusing to allow the United States to conduct inspection activities on Russian territory based on the invalid invocation of the ‘temporary exemption’ clause, Russia has failed to comply with its obligations to facilitate inspection activities by the United States. , denied the United States its right to “perform such inspection activities,” the US State Department concluded. report.
According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), if the New START Treaty could collapse, the US and Russia could scale up their respective nuclear arsenals, which could have serious global consequences. there is. “These moves are likely to provoke reactions in other nuclear-weapon states, some of which may decide to build up their nuclear arsenals and expand their role in military strategy.” FAS he said in February. report.
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said it will continue to comply with the restrictions of the New START Treaty, but past problems with compliance with this and other agreements cast doubt on this commitment.
A ‘dangerous’ new nuclear age
Putin had just announced on Tuesday that Russia would suspend its participation in the treaty, but the country is already doing this, more or less, by blocking on-site inspections and refusing to meet to resolve issues. said Hans Christensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project. At FAS, he told an insider.
“I think the only thing they can do is stop exchanging data with the US about what their nuclear forces are. They need to do that twice a year,” Christensen said. Additionally, Russia may cease notifying the United States if it undertakes nuclear force transfers or exercises mandated under the treaty.
Early Tuesday, Christensen I have written Social media said Putin’s announcement put the treaty on “life support.”
He explained that the two countries could return to “worst-case scenario planning” if the treaty were to completely collapse. No matter what happens, the Russian military will not exceed the New START strength level.”
Andrei Baklitsky, a researcher on the weapons of mass destruction program at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Studies, said Russia’s suspension would effectively stop information exchange and communication between the two countries.
“Suspension of the treaty is not the same as withdrawal from the treaty. ).Therefore, compliance is disputed.”Bakritzky wrote thread on social media.
In another post, he wrote, “God only knows where we end up, it’s bad and it can and will probably get worse.”
John Ulfstahl, a senior adviser to Global Zero, an organization working to abolish nuclear weapons, said Putin’s decision was a reversal of the decades-long relative conflict enjoyed by the United States and Russia, which have withdrawn from other arms control treaties. He warned that it could threaten nuclear restrictions. Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
“We are in the midst of a very dangerous new nuclear age, an era where we really need to understand the risks to both America’s security and the security of our allies,” he said on Twitter Spaces. . conversation.