Moscow will pause participation in a 2011 nuclear arms control treaty with the U.S., the only agreement between two great powers limiting nuclear weapons arsenals, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday after President Joe Biden paid a historic visit to Kyiv.
The U.S. in January had accused Russia of failing to abide by a 2011 treaty known as New START, which places mutually agreed-upon caps on the varieties and amounts of nuclear warheads and delivery weapons each country can maintain. Russia was blocking U.S. teams that, as part of the treaty provisions, are allowed to conduct regular inspections of each other’s weapons sites and is the only treaty that limits the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, according to CNN.
“They want to deal us a strategic defeat and are meddling with our nuclear facilities. In this context, I have to declare today that Russia is suspending its participation in the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Arms,” Putin told a government assembly in a state of the nation speech Tuesday, according to The Wall Street Journal. (RELATED: The Pentagon Is Sounding The Alarm On China’s Massive Nuclear Build-Out, But Experts Disagree About How To Respond)
The State Department in a report to Congress in January said Russia had rejected attempts to discuss noncompliance concerns along with thwarting inspections, the first time the U.S. has alleged noncompliance with the 2011 agreement, according to the WSJ.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Putin’s decision “is both really unfortunate and very irresponsible,” the WSJ reported.
“But of course, we remain ready to talk about strategic arms limitations at any time with Russia, irrespective of anything else going on in the world or in our relationship,” he added, according to the WSJ. “I think it matters that we continue to act responsibly in this area.”
Putin warned that he would consider testing nuclear weapons if the U.S. chooses to do so in the address, saying some in Washington were discussing conducting nuclear tests, according to Reuters. He blamed the West for using the “special military operation” in Ukraine as an excuse to destroy Russia and said Moscow would achieve its goals.
Former President Barack Obama negotiated the agreement after a prior arms control treaty with Russia, known as START I, expired.
The Biden administration hoped to maintain New START as Russia continues what the administration has consistently referred to as an “unprovoked invasion” of Ukraine, according to the WSJ. In 2021, the administration renewed the agreement and it is set to expire on Feb. 4, 2026.
The United States is currently assessing the Russian Federation’s compliance with the New START Treaty, per the annual report the State Department is required to submit to the U.S. Congress. I urge the Russian Federation to fully implement its New START Treaty obligations. pic.twitter.com/lCc4WeklCQ
— U.S. Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament (@USAmbCD) January 24, 2023
“No matter what else is happening in the world, the United States is ready to pursue critical arms control measures,” a National Security Council spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Monday, the first since the war began in February of 2022, where he pledged $500 million in additional aid for Ukraine.
The White House and Department of Defense did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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