Russia suspended its participation in New START, a strategic arms reduction treaty with the United States, but is not withdrawing from it, President Vladimir Putin said in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on Tuesday, the Russian news agency TASS reports.
“I have to say today that Russia is suspending its participation in New START. I repeat, not withdrawing from the treaty, no, but merely suspending its participation,” Putin emphasized.
Apparently, the Russian president wants to better understand the implications of France and the U.K. arming Ukraine, with whom Russia has been fighting for a year.
The START acronym stands for “Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty” and was a series of agreements signed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union/Russia aimed at reducing and limiting the number of strategic nuclear weapons held by each country. START was originally signed by U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991.
In 2010, the New START treaty was signed by then-U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. It limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads each country can deploy and came into force in 2011.
The treaty was extended in 2021 for five more years by U.S. President Joe Biden, allowing both U.S. and Russian inspectors to verify compliance. The agreement limits the deployment of no more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads and a maximum of 700 long-range missiles and bombers. Both countries can conduct up to 18 inspections of strategic nuclear weapons sites per year to ensure compliance with the treaty’s limits.
In his Tuesday address, Putin stressed that before returning to the discussion on the issue of continuing the work as part of New START, Russia must understand what “such NATO countries as France and the United Kingdom vie for and how will their strategic arsenals be taken into account,” according to TASS.
“That is to say the overall strike potential of the alliance,” Putin explained. “Now by their statement they have de facto made a bid for this process. Well, thank God. Go ahead, we are not against. But there is no need to again try to lie to all and pretend to be champions of peace and detente.”
In the speech, Putin characterized his “military operation” in Ukraine as an effort to “protect the people in our historical lands, to ensure the security of our country and to eliminate the threat coming from the neo-Nazi regime that had taken hold in Ukraine after the 2014 coup.”
Before the decision to invade Ukraine, the Russian leader argued that his country had been “doing everything in our power to solve this problem by peaceful means.” Russia was “open and sincerely ready for a constructive dialogue with the West,” but NATO’s expanding closer to Russia’s borders, including “the creation of new deployment areas for missile defence in Europe and Asia,” required a strong response, according to Putin.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg commented that Russia should reconsider its decision to suspend the nuclear arms control treaty with the U.S.
“I regret the decision by Russia to suspend its participation in a New START program,” Stoltenberg told a press conference. “More nuclear weapons and less arms control makes the world more dangerous. That is why I’m calling on Russia today to reconsider its decision.”
Russia’s move against the U.S., which just announced renewed support for Ukraine, including $500,000,000 in aid, comes as Chinese leader Xi Jinping prepares to visit Moscow for a summit with Putin in the coming months.
Beijing says it wants to play a more active role aimed at ending the conflict, and the people familiar with Xi’s trip plans said a meeting with Putin would be part of a push for multiparty peace talks and allow China to reiterate its calls that nuclear weapons not be used, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Read Putin’s partial remarks below:
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Members of the Federation Assembly – senators, State Duma deputies, Citizens of Russia, This Presidential Address comes, as we all know, at a difficult, watershed period for our country. This is a time of radical, irreversible change in the entire world, of crucial historical events that will determine the future of our country and our people, a time when every one of us bears a colossal responsibility. One year ago, to protect the people in our historical lands, to ensure the security of our country and to eliminate the threat coming from the neo-Nazi regime that had taken hold in Ukraine after the 2014 coup, it was decided to begin the special military operation. Step by step, carefully and consistently we will deal with the tasks we have at hand. Since 2014, Donbass has been fighting for the right to live in their land and to speak their native tongue. It fought and never gave up amid the blockade, constant shelling and the Kiev regime’s overt hatred. It hoped and waited that Russia would come to help. In the meantime, as you know well, we were doing everything in our power to solve this problem by peaceful means, and patiently conducted talks on a peaceful solution to this devastating conflict. This appalling method of deception has been tried and tested many times before. They behaved just as shamelessly and duplicitously when destroying Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. They will never be able to wash off this shame. The concepts of honour, trust, and decency are not for them. Over the long centuries of colonialism, diktat and hegemony, they got used to being allowed everything, got used to spitting on the whole world. It turned out that they treat people living in their own countries with the same disdain, like a master. After all, they cynically deceived them too, tricked them with tall stories about the search for peace, about adherence to the UN Security Council resolutions on Donbass. Indeed, the Western elites have become a symbol of total, unprincipled lies. We firmly defend our interests as well as our belief that in today’s world there should be no division into so-called civilised countries and all the rest and that there is a need for an honest partnership that rejects any exclusivity, especially an aggressive one. We were open and sincerely ready for a constructive dialogue with the West; we said and insisted that both Europe and the whole world needed an indivisible security system equal for all countries, and for many years we suggested that our partners discuss this idea together and work on its implementation. But in response, we received either an indistinct or hypocritical reaction, as far as words were concerned. But there were also actions: NATO’s expansion to our borders, the creation of new deployment areas for missile defence in Europe and Asia – they decided to take cover from us under an ‘umbrella’ – deployment of military contingents, and not just near Russia’s borders. I would like to stress –in fact, this is well-known – that no other country has so many military bases abroad as the United States. There are hundreds of them – I want to emphasise this – hundreds of bases all over the world; the planet is covered with them, and one look at the map is enough to see this. The whole world witnessed how they withdrew from fundamental agreements on weapons, including the treaty on intermediate and shorter-range missiles, unilaterally tearing up the fundamental agreements that maintain world peace. For some reason, they did it. They do not do anything without a reason, as we know. Finally, in December 2021, we officially submitted draft agreements on security guarantees to the USA and NATO. In essence, all key, fundamental points were rejected. After that it finally became clear that the go-ahead for the implementation of aggressive plans had been given and they were not going to stop. The threat was growing by the day. Judging by the information we received, there was no doubt that everything would be in place by February 2022 for launching yet another bloody punitive operation in Donbass. Let me remind you that back in 2014, the Kiev regime sent its artillery, tanks and warplanes to fight in Donbass. We all remember the aerial footage of airstrikes targeting Donetsk. Other cities also suffered from airstrikes. In 2015, they tried to mount a frontal assault against Donbass again, while keeping the blockade in place and continuing to shell and terrorise civilians. Let me remind you that all of this was completely at odds with the documents and resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, but everyone pretended that nothing was happening. Let me reiterate that they were the ones who started this war, while we used force and are using it to stop the war. Those who plotted a new attack against Donetsk in the Donbass region, and against Lugansk understood that Crimea and Sevastopol would be the next target. We realised this as well. Even today, Kiev is openly discussing far-reaching plans of this kind. They exposed themselves by making public what we knew already. We are defending human lives and our common home, while the West seeks unlimited power. It has already spent over $150 billion on helping and arming the Kiev regime. To give you an idea, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the G7 countries earmarked about $60 billion in 2020–2021 to help the world’s poorest countries. Is this clear? They spent $150 billion on the war, while giving $60 billion to the poorest countries, despite pretending to care about them all the time, and also conditioning this support on obedience on behalf of the beneficiary countries. What about all this talk of fighting poverty, sustainable development and protection of the environment? Where did it all go? Has it all vanished? Meanwhile, they keep channelling more money into the war effort. They eagerly invest in sowing unrest and encouraging government coups in other countries around the world. The recent Munich Conference turned into an endless stream of accusations against Russia. One gets the impression that this was done so that everyone would forget what the so-called West has been doing over the past decades. They were the ones who let the genie out of the bottle, plunging entire regions into chaos. According to US experts, almost 900,000 people were killed during wars unleashed by the United States after 2001, and over 38 million became refugees. Please note, we did not invent these statistics; it is the Americans who are providing them. They are now simply trying to erase all this from the memory of humankind, and they are pretending that all this never happened. However, no one in the world has forgotten this or will ever forget it. None of them cares about human casualties and tragedies because many trillions of dollars are at stake, of course. They can also continue to rob everyone under the guise of democracy and freedoms, to impose neoliberal and essentially totalitarian values, to brand entire countries and nations, to publicly insult their leaders, to suppress dissent in their own countries and to divert attention from corruption scandals by creating an enemy image. We continue to see all this on television, which highlights greater domestic economic, social and inter-ethnic problems, contradictions and disagreements. I would like to recall that, in the 1930s, the West had virtually paved the way to power for the Nazis in Germany. In our time, they started turning Ukraine into an “anti-Russia.” Actually, this project is not new. People who are knowledgeable about history at least to some extent realise that this project dates back to the 19th century. The Austro-Hungarian Empire and Poland had conceived it for one purpose, that is, to deprive Russia of these historical territories that are now called Ukraine. This is their goal. There is nothing new here; they are repeating everything. The West expedited the implementation of this project today by supporting the 2014 coup. That was a bloody, anti-state and unconstitutional coup. They pretended that nothing happened, and that this is how things should be. They even said how much money they had spent on it. Russophobia and extremely aggressive nationalism formed its ideological foundation. Quite recently, a brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was named Edelweiss after a Nazi division whose personnel were involved in deporting Jews, executing prisoners of war and conducting punitive operations against partisans in Yugoslavia, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Greece. We are ashamed to talk about this, but they are not. Personnel serving with the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Ukrainian National Guard are particularly fond of chevrons formerly worn by soldiers from Das Reich, Totenkopf (Death’s Head) and Galichina divisions and other SS units. Their hands are also stained with blood. Ukrainian armoured vehicles feature insignia of the Nazi German Wehrmacht. To be continued.