Putin announces suspension of last nuclear treaty with US, puts new missiles on combat duty

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday suspended Russian participation in the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty with the United States, warning Washington that Russia had put new ground-based strategic nuclear weapons on combat duty.

Russia and the United States still have vast arsenals of nuclear weapons left over from the Cold War whose numbers are currently limited by the New START Treaty, which was agreed in 2010 and is due to expire in 2026.

“I am forced to announce today that Russia is suspending its participation in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty,” Putin told his country’s political and military elite.

The Russian leader said that some people in Washington were thinking about resuming nuclear testing and that Russia’s defence ministry and nuclear corporation should therefore be ready to test Russian nuclear weapons if necessary.

“Of course, we will not do this first. But if the United States conducts tests, then we will. No one should have dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be destroyed.”

“A week ago, I signed a decree on putting new ground-based strategic systems on combat duty. Are they going to stick their nose in there too, or what? And they think that everything is so simple? What, are we going to let them in there just like that?”

The New START Treaty limited both sides to 1,550 warheads on deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. Both sides met the central limits by 2018.

Putin announced the move during his annual state-of-the-nation speech in which he vowed to continue with Russia’s year-long war in Ukraine and accused the U.S.-led NATO alliance of fanning the flames of the conflict in the mistaken belief that it could defeat Moscow in a global confrontation.

He said Russia had done everything it could to avoid war, but that Western-backed Ukraine had been planning to attack Crimea, Reuters reported, adding, “The West, Putin said, had let the genie out of the bottle in a host of regions across the world by sowing chaos and war.”

“The people of Ukraine themselves have become hostages of the Kyiv regime and its Western masters, who have actually occupied this country in a political, military, and economic sense,” Putin said.
Defeating Russia, he said, was impossible.

Since the attack on 24 February, 2022, Russia has faced many battle reversals, but still holds one-fifth of Ukraine, Putin told both Houses of Parliament Tuesday.

The 70-year-old said Russia was locked in an existential battle with an arrogant West, who he believes will carve up the country and steal its natural resources.

Putin’s scheduled speech was upstaged by US President Joe Biden’s cloak-and-dagger trip to Kyiv on Monday, where he reaffirmed the West’s support to Ukraine and said: “One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands.” Around the world

On Tuesday, Putin said: “I have already said many times that the people of Ukraine have become the hostage of the Kyiv regime and its Western overlords, who have effectively occupied this country in the political, military and economic sense… Today’s Ukrainian regime essentially serves not the national interests but those of third countries.”

“We have already begun and will continue to build up a large-scale programme for the socio-economic recovery and development of these new subjects of the Federation (territory annexed from Ukraine). We are talking about reviving enterprises and jobs in the ports of the Sea of Azov, which has again become an inland sea of Russia, and building new modern roads, as we did in Crimea,” Putin said according to Reuters.

He said he was making this address at a time which was a difficult and watershed moment for his country… “a time of cardinal, irreversible changes, the most important historic events that will shape the future of our country and our people, when each of us bears a colossal responsibility.”

He said the West wanted to make the Russians suffer… but their calculations did not materialise. “The Russian economy and the management turned out to be much stronger than they thought,” he told Parliament.

Of the United States, Putin said: “I want to emphasise that… no country in the world has as many military bases abroad as the United States. There are hundreds of them… around the world.”

“The whole world has seen them withdraw from fundamental armaments agreements, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. They unilaterally tore apart the fundamental agreements that maintain world peace. Why did they do this? Just because they could.”