Russian President Vladimir Putin made a major announcement at the end of his two-hour-long state-of-the-nation address on Tuesday by revealing that Russia will be suspending its participation in New START, the only remaining agreement governing nuclear arms control between Moscow and Washington. The move represents a significant shift in Russia’s foreign policy and could have far-reaching implications for global security.
Putin made a surprising announcement on Tuesday in his otherwise unremarkable address to the nation. Ee revealed that Russia would suspend its participation in New START, the only remaining nuclear arms control pact between Russia and the United States.#Putin #NuclearTreaty pic.twitter.com/6ctuqobOSK
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Despite the rest of Putin’s speech being relatively unmarketable, the announcement of the suspension of the New START agreement surprised many. This treaty, which the United States and Russia signed in 2010, limits the quantity of strategic nuclear warheads and delivery systems that the two countries can possess. It was set to expire in 2026 but could have been extended by up to five years with mutual agreement from both parties.
With Russia suspending its participation, the future of New Start looks uncertain. The move will likely increase tensions between Russia and the United States and could trigger an arms race as both countries look to expand their nuclear capabilities. Moreover, the suspension will likely impact other nuclear powers, who may feel emboldened to expand their nuclear arsenals. Overall, Putin’s announcement is a significant development in the ongoing arms control debate that policymakers worldwide will closely watch.
Russia Controls the World’s Largest Nuclear Arsenal
During his speech, the Russian leader said he was not canceling the New START treaty, which will run through 2026. However, he clarified that Russia would not comply with the U.S. requests to resume regular inspections and meetings mandated by the treaty. These inspections and meetings limit the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles that each country can possess. Putin’s move is a tactic to put pressure on Washington to reconsider its plans to provide Ukraine with more advanced weapons.
The Russian leader wants to remind the U.S. and its NATO allies why they have avoided direct involvement in the ongoing war in Ukraine. Putin controls the world’s largest nuclear arsenal and has created uncertainty about his threshold for using weapons of mass destruction, which has deterred direct intervention by foreign powers in the conflict.
However, the most significant aspect of Putin’s speech was different from what he said. In his Tuesday speech, Putin could not extol any victories in the military sphere over the past year and therefore restored in the ongoing war. He accused the West of aggression and asserted that defeating Russia on the battlefield would be impossible. But what he didn’t say.
Putin Ignores Military Failures and Casualties in State of the Nation Address
Despite delivering a lengthy speech on Tuesday, the Russian president didn’t offer assurance that the ongoing conflict with Ukraine would be resolved shortly. He also failed to mention numerous Russian battlefield defeats, nor did he address the rising number of casualties, believed to be as high as 200,000 dead or wounded. Furthermore, Putin did not clarify his military objectives in the war. Instead, he briefly touched on the economic challenges brought on by the conflict and largely downplayed them.
Rather than providing a clear timeline for ending Europe’s largest land war since World War II, Putin used his speech to outline a neo-Soviet vision for Russia. He called for unity and sacrifice and promised to improve infrastructure by building roads and schools, increasing the minimum wage and tax deductions, and offering greater support for the families of Russian soldiers killed or wounded in the war. Additionally, he suggested that Russia’s increasing isolation from the international community is a positive development that will allow the country to rid itself of harmful foreign ideologies.
At the beginning of his speech, Putin followed his usual pattern of launching vigorous attacks against the West and pushing conspiratorial claims about Ukraine’s “neo-Nazi regime.” Once again, he falsely accused the West of starting the war and claimed Russia was forced to respond. Although he used the word “war” during his speech, Putin only did so to place blame on Ukraine and the Western “elites” supporting Kyiv for the military conflict that began on his orders. He stated, “They were the ones who started the war,” and then justified Russia’s use of force to stop it.
Concerns Grow About Support for Russia’s Ongoing War Effort
Recent opinion polls suggest that more Russians favour peace than they are of continuing the ongoing war. However, Putin still maintains high levels of support as a wartime leader. Nevertheless, questions still need to be answered about how long the Russian public will continue to support the war effort and send young men to fight and die in a conflict that offers uncertain benefits to the nation. The economic sanctions slapped by the international community are having a significant impact on Russia, which further adds to concerns about the viability of the war effort.
Most of Putin’s speech was intended for a domestic audience, but his final move was directed at foreign countries. The decision to suspend Russian participation in New START was a classic example of Putin’s approach as the military defeats in Ukraine continued to accumulate. He tends to double down and escalate the conflict, insisting that Russia has no option but to continue fighting.
During his speech, Putin quoted Pyotr Stolypin, an imperial Russian prime minister from the early 1900s, saying that Russia was fighting to maintain its historical right to be strong. While the decision to suspend Russia’s role in New START is unlikely to trigger an immediate arms race, according to arms control analysts, the United States has long complained that Moscow was not adhering to the agreement.