Russia’s Putin announces suspending participation in nuclear arms treaty with US

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 defense 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 US-led NATO alliance of fanning the flames of the conflict in the mistaken belief that it could defeat Moscow in a global confrontation.

Speaking nearly a year to the day since ordering an invasion that has triggered the biggest confrontation with the West since the depths of the Cold War, Putin said Russia would “consistently resolve the tasks facing” it in Ukraine.

Flanked by four Russian tricolor flags either side, Putin said Russia was tilting toward Asia after the West hit it with the most severe sanctions in modern history.

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