Russian President Vladimir Putin declared on February 21st that Moscow was suspending its participation in the New START convention — the last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the United States — sprucely upping the figure amid pressures with Washington over the conflict in Ukraine.
In his speech, Mr Putin also stated that Russia should be prepared to resume nuclear weapons testing if the United States did so, ending a global ban on such testing that has been in place since the Cold War.
Explaining his decision to suspend Russia’s scores under New START, Mr Putin accused the U.S. and its NATO abettors of openly declaring the cause of Russia’s defeat in Ukraine. “They want to induce a strategic defeat on us and try to get to our nuclear installations at the same time,” he said.
Putin argued that while the U.S. has pushed for the resumption of examinations of Russian nuclear installations under the convention, NATO abettors had helped Ukraine mount drone attacks on Russian air bases hosting nuclear-able strategic bombers. “The drones used for it were equipped and modernised with NATO’s expert backing,” Mr Putin said. “And now they want to check our defence installations? In the conditions of the moment’s battle, it sounds like sheer gibberish.” Mr Putin emphasised that while Russia is temporarily delaying its participation in New START, it has not yet completely withdrawn from the agreement.
The New START convention, signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no further than 1,550 stationed nuclear warheads and 700 stationed missiles and bombers. The agreement envisages sweeping on-point examinations to corroborate compliance.
Just days before the convention was due to expire in February 2021, Russia and the United countries agreed to extend it for another five years. Russia and the U.S. have suspended collective examinations under New START since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic, but Moscow last fall refused to allow their resumption, raising queries about the pact’s future. Russia also indefinitely laid over a planned round of consultations under the convention.