Putin is done with the nuclear arms treaty with US after Biden visited Ukraine. So, what now?

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadFeb 22, 2023 | 16:11

Putin is done with the nuclear arms treaty with US after Biden visited Ukraine. So, what now?

Vladimir Putin announces Russia's suspension from nuclear arms treaty with the US. Photo: DailyO

US President Joe Biden's 'surprise' visit to Ukraine as the Russian invasion marks one year elicited a state of the nation address by Vladimir Putin just hours later. Putin's rhetoric against the 'local' Ukraine war and the West was the same, if not more threatening. And of course, nuclear war threats were the icing on the cake. 

The latest: 

  • The highlight of Vladimir Putin's state of the nation address on February 21 was suspending the nuclear arms treaty with the US.
Russia suspends its participation in the New START Treaty.
- Vladimir Putin

What is this New Start Treaty between US and Russia? 

  • Cold War rivals Russia and the US signed what is called the New START (STrategic Arms Reduction Treaty) treaty in 2010, agreeing to freeze increase of their nuclear warhead inventory among other things. 
  • The treaty also allowed Russia and the US to inspect each other's work on the nuclear weapons front to prevent a nuclear escalation. 
  • The treaty was signed with the mutual fear of bringing about a worldwide Armageddon.  
Joe Biden with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine. Photo: Twitter/POTUS

What does the suspension mean?

  • While Putin declared suspending Moscow's participation in the treaty, the Russian Foreign Ministry later clarified that they intended to follow the restrictions on the number of warheads outlined in the treaty. 
  • Meaning, Russia is not immediately planning to expand its nuclear warhead inventory.
  • But Putin did say that they will also start nuclear weapons tests if the US starts it first. 
Of course, we will not do it first. But if the US conducts tests, we will do it as well.
- Vladimir Putin
  • It needs to be noted that Russia and the US together hold 90% of all the world's nuclear weapons, which is already enough to destroy the planet several times over.
  • So, expanding each other's arsenal will only mean that the planet can be destroyed a few more times over (although we don't know who will be alive to go ahead with Destruction 2.0)
  • The New START treaty is anyway set to expire in 2026. 
  • There were already problems with keeping up the bargains of the treaty by the US and Russia. Washington complained that Moscow is not allowing inspections of its sites as per the agreements. 
Russian President Vladimir Putin during state of the nation address. Photo: en.kremlin.ru

Putin had this to say about it:

The United States and NATO are directly saying that their goal is to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia. Are they going to inspect our defense facilities, including the newest ones, as if nothing had happened? Do they really think we're easily going to let them in there just like that?

Since Russia waged war with Ukraine in February 2022, the threat of a nuclear battle breaking out has always hung on the world's neck like a sword. From playing footsie with nuclear power plants to Putin's multiple threats, Russia's language of war has been clear as day. 

While the war in Ukraine, sanctions on Russia, and the tension with NATO has impacted the rest of the world indirectly in some way or other, nuclear war is a direct threat to all.

Last updated: February 22, 2023 | 16:11
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