Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday announced Russia will suspend its participation in the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The treaty represents the last remaining nuclear arms treaty between the US and Russia.
Putin claimed the US wanted to “inflict a strategic defeat” on Russia and “climb on [Russia’s] nuclear facilities.” A statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry further explained this, alleging that Western countries–such as nuclear-equipped UK and France–are expanding their nuclear infrastructure eastward. Russia said that this, coupled with the US’s continued use of Ukraine as a proxy to probe the security of Russian New START facilities, are the reasons for the decision.
The decision comes weeks after the US accused Russia of violating New START by refusing to allow inspections on Russian START facilities. In response to President Putin’s announcement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his disappointment, calling it “both really unfortunate and very irresponsible.”
New START, signed by the US and the Russian Federation in 2010, limits the number of strategic nuclear armaments both countries can deploy and provides for bilateral annual inspections to ensure compliance. The treaty is set to expire in 2026, but both sides have the option to extend it for five years.