Russia Suspends Participation in New Start Nuclear Treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin is suspending Russia’s participation in the New START treaty. The New START treaty is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia. The treaty is the last major remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the two countries. The country is not fully pulling out of the treaty as of right now however US officials are unsure what Russia’s next steps will be.

During Putin’s speech on the 1 year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin stated, “They want to inflict a strategic defeat on us and claim our nuclear facilities,” then he proceeded to suspend participation in the treaty. The treaty sets limits on the number of intercontinental-range nuclear weapons that both countries can have. It also allows the countries to do inspections of other countries’ weapon sites. The treaty was extended in 2021 for another 5 years; however, Putin has other plans. The treaty prohibits anything more than 1,550 strategic warheads each; however, with Russia stopping participation and not allowing inspections, there is no way to tell if they are still abiding by the treaty.

Putin during his speech on the 1 year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine VIA The Guardian

The tensions between Russia and the United States are already very high with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Lynn Rusten, vice president for NTI’s Global Nuclear Policy Program explains, “We’re not in a nuclear arms race today, but it’s very concerning that we soon will be, because the bottom line is, this is the last nuclear treaty governing nuclear weapons of the United States and Russia that is in force. And obviously it’s under incredible strain now, and potentially unraveling.” Putin’s decision has been described as reversible by Russian officials. Andrey Baklitskiy, a senior researcher at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research explained, “This is a big deal; suspension of the treaty is not equal to withdrawal but in reality, it could become really close over time.”

Around the world China is building its arsenal, North Korea has been testing its own intercontinental missiles, and Iran is making progress in making near-bomb-grade nuclear fuel. With other countries making these progresses, tensions in the world are high. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan once said, “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”