"In this regard, I am forced to announce today that Russia is suspending its participation in the strategic offensive arms treaty," Russian President Vladimir Putin said declaration in the annual state of the nation address to Russia’s National Assembly on 21st February.
Putin is suspending his country’s participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with the United States, imperiling the last remaining pact that regulates the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals.
The 2010 New Start deal restricts the world’s two major nuclear powers’ deployed strategic nuclear arsenals, capping strategic nuclear weapons at 1,550 deployed warheads and 700 deployed missiles and heavy bombers. The pact also calls for collaborative surveillance of each side’s deployed nuclear arsenals, as well as bilateral consultative commission coordination.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry stated hours after Putin’s address that the decision to suspend participation in the pact was “reversible.”
While Russia does not appear to be abandoning the accord entirely, it appears to be formalizing its current position. For months, US officials have been frustrated over Russia’s lack of cooperation with the agreement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his speech as he attended commemorations marking the 80th anniversary of the Soviet victory in the battle of Stalingrad in the southern Russian city of Volgograd, once known as Stalingrad, Russia. The Battle of Stalingrad altered the course of World War II and is recognized as the worst conflict in history, with an estimated 2 million troops and civilians killed.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Putin’s decision “deeply unfortunate and irresponsible.” He added, “We’ll be watching carefully to see what Russia actually does. 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.”, he added.
Blinken stated that President Joe Biden’s government is ready to discuss the nuclear arms treaty “at any time with Russia, irrespective of anything else going on in the world.”
Several Western allies, like France and the United Kingdom, followed him in calling on Putin to lift reverse the suspension. According to a representative for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Britain hopes Putin would “reconsider his rash decision.”
All eyes are on Russia as many hope that the repercussions of this decision does not cause a wave of despair and instability.