Russia has suspended its participation in the New START treaty, said Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in a speech to the Federal Assembly and members of the Russian political elite on Monday, Feb. 21.
The nuclear arms reduction treaty between the U.S. and Russia was signed in 2010 in Prague, and the treaty limits the size and composition of the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. Russia and US have the world’s largest nuclear warheads – Over 6000, and with this suspension by the kremlin, the only agreement between both countries is the “arms control.”
Putin said that Russia would not allow the U.S. or NATO countries to inspect its nuclear arsenal, adding that a week ago he signed a decree putting new strategic ground-based systems of nuclear missiles on combat duty. He also said that Russia is prepared to test nuclear weapons if the U.S. carries out tests.
The statement adds to a list of nuclear threats that Russia has made since the beginning of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Putin also threatened that, “the more long-range Western systems will come to Ukraine, the further we will be forced to move the threat away from our borders.”
Ukraine has been asking the West to provide it with long-range missile systems to be able to hit Russian military targets deep behind the front line. The West has so far been reluctant about supplying such weapons, fearing that Ukraine would attack Russian territory.
Putin said in his speech that “the goal of the West is to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia, to end us once and for all. We will respond accordingly because we are talking about the existence of our country.”
Putin declared that Russia has not had to seek economic aid from its allies despite the Western sanctions.
Putin praised the Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine, saying that he wanted to “bow down” to the relatives of soldiers and those engaged in the war effort. He added that soldiers would have a “regular vacation of at least 14 days at least once every six months,” excluding travel time.
According to the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Russia has lost more than 144,000 soldiers in Ukraine as of Feb. 21, 2023.