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Home » Russia Suspends its Membership in the New START Treaty: Reasons, Implications and What Next

Russia Suspends its Membership in the New START Treaty: Reasons, Implications and What Next

by Grayson Henderson
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In his traditional annual address, on February 21, to the federal assembly which is principally made up of the upper and lower legislative chambers, Russian President Vladimir Putin splashed demunitive words and well-coined phrases at the United States and its allies, hit the nails down at their methods of deception and habitual behaviour characterized by the long centuries of colonialism and hegemony.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, they sought to perpetuate their global dominance regardless of the interests of modern Russia or other countries for that matter. Sure enough, the international situation changed after 1945. New centres of growth and influence have been formed and are rapidly expanding. This is a natural and objective process that cannot be ignored. But the United States trying to refashion the international order to suit exclusively its own needs and selfish interests is unacceptable.

He referenced to several replies to officially submitted draft agreements on security guarantees to the USA and NATO. While the West seeks unlimited power, it has already spent over $150 billion on helping and arming the Kiev regime. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the G7 countries earmarked about $60 billion in 2020–2021 to help the world’s poorest countries. These poor countries are still fighting poverty, sustainable development and protection of the environment.

“This appalling method of deception has been tried and tested many times before. They behaved just as shamelessly and duplicitously when destroying Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. They will never be able to wash off this shame. The concepts of honour, trust, and decency are not for them,” Putin said.

Now, they are using NATO to give us signals, which, in fact, is an ultimatum whereby Russia should, no questions asked, implement everything that it agreed to, including the New START Treaty, whereas they will do as they please, according to Putin.

“As if there is no connection between strategic offensive weapons and, say, the conflict in Ukraine or other hostile Western actions against our country. As if there are no vociferous claims about them seeking to inflict a strategic defeat on us. This is either the height of hypocrisy and cynicism, or the height of stupidity, but they are not idiots. They are not stupid after all. They want to inflict a strategic defeat on us and also to get to our nuclear sites,” he added during the speeched interlanced with deep applause.

Russia finally suspened its activities relating to the New START Treaty. “In this regard, I am compelled to announce today that Russia is suspending its membership in the New START Treaty. To reiterate, we are not withdrawing from the Treaty, but rather suspending our participation. Before we come back to discussing this issue, we must have a clear idea of what NATO countries such as France or Great Britain have at stake, and how we will account for their strategic arsenals, that is, the Alliance’s combined offensive capabilities,” Putin said.

On the February 22, a day after Putin’s announcement, the State Duma held its sessions aimed at discussing further questions and aspects fo the suspension of the the New START Treaty. The State Duma considered Vladimir Putin’s initiative “On the suspension by the Russian Federation of the Treaty between Russia and the United States of America on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Weapons.”

According to the Chairman of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, pointed out clearly that “by ceasing implementing its obligations and rejecting our country’s proposals on global security issues, the United States of America destroyed the architecture of international stability. The USA led the world to conflicts and challenges.”

“The current situation is the result of Washington’s foreign affairs. Members of the US Congress should understand the situation caused by Biden and its possible consequences,” concluded Volodin.

The draft law was unanimously adopted by members of the State Duma. The document suspends the Treaty concluded in Prague on 8 April 2010. The decision to renew the Treaty will be made by the President of the Russian Federation. The law comes into force as of the date of its official publication.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry provided a detailed assessment of the deplorable state of affairs regarding the implementation of the New START Treaty resulting from the destructive actions by the United States in the context of this agreement, as well as its overall policy line to weaken the security of the Russian Federation and strangle our country in political and economic terms. Building on the approaches outlined earlier, the Foreign Ministry noted the following negative factors preventing the New START from being fully operational, which was the fault of the United States.

The Russian Federation found itself in a radically new security environment resulting from Washington’s extreme hostility and efforts to stir up confrontation, as well as its overt commitment to promoting a malicious escalation of the conflict in and around Ukraine. It, however, noted that the New START’s preamble, which is an integral part of the treaty, sets forth the commitment by the parties to the principle of indivisible security and forging relations based on mutual trust and cooperation. However, the United States is now openly seeking to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia, while tensions encouraged by Washington go far beyond the Ukraine crisis with the United States and the US-led West trying to harm our country at every possible level, in every sphere and region of the world.

Worth noting here that the United States policy aims to undermine Russia’s national security, which directly contradicts the fundamental principles and understandings set forth in the New START’s preamble and forming its foundation. It would not have been signed without stating these principles. This de facto amounts to a fundamental change of circumstances compared to those prevailing at the time of signing the New START Treaty.

In this situation, it is no longer possible to maintain business as usual with the United States and the West in general, both as a matter of principle and regarding arms control, which is inseparable from the geopolitical, military and strategic reality.

Moreover, the fact that Western countries coalesced around the anti-Russia agenda increasingly impacts their nuclear policy, which constitutes a serious shift in the security landscape. In particular, NATO members have been carrying out the so-called Joint Nuclear Operations for decades, and designated the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as a “nuclear alliance” at a certain point, while also placing a bigger emphasis on nuclear weapons in NATO’s conceptual documents and stating their commitment to further strengthening and improving the combat readiness of the relevant capabilities that are under NATO control.

According the statement, in this context, the integrated nuclear capability of the three nuclear powers within NATO, namely the United States, Great Britain, and France, takes on special importance in today’s environment. This capability can be turned against Russia. In this sense, it is quite symbolic that all NATO countries, including Great Britain and France, have explicitly confirmed their involvement in matters related to the New START Treaty by issuing a joint statement to support the US approaches. This political gesture confirmed that Russia adopted a justified position in viewing the nuclear capabilities of the three Western nuclear powers as forming a single whole, taking this factor into consideration when dealing with processes related to nuclear arms limitation and reduction, as well as when exploring matters related to the New START’s future.

Washington has for years disregarded the interrelationship between strategic offensive and strategic defensive weapons, which is also sealed in the New START Treaty. Russia’s statement on ballistic missile defence, which was made in the context of the signing and ratification of the treaty, provided a clear reference to that interrelationship. In that document, we unambiguously pointed out that New START could only be viable if the United States refrained from the qualitative and quantitative build-up of its BMD systems. Nevertheless, Washington continues to openly take steps in the opposite direction. This factor is acquiring special significance in the context of the overall aggravation of the military-strategic situation.

Of vital importance for assessing compliance with New START is the fact that Washington has long been seriously violating the fundamental provisions of the treaty on the quantitative restrictions of the parties’ relevant armaments. This includes the unilateral withdrawal from the counting rules of over 100 US strategic offensive systems, which Washington has renamed in order to withdraw them from the treaty provisions or it has claimed that they have been converted without giving Russia an opportunity to reliably verify the compliance of such conversion with the treaty provisions, in accordance with the procedures set out in the treaty. We have pointed out this clear and direct violation on numerous occasions.

In addition, the United States undertook clearly provocative and extremely dangerous attempts to probe the protection of several Russian facilities included in the treaty. The armed attacks on them, which the puppet regime in Kiev launched, were organised with Washington’s obvious military-technical, information and intelligence support.

In this context, the ministry regarded as utterly cynical Washington’s demand that they be given immediate access to these and other Russian strategic facilities in accordance with the New START provisions on inspections. This is especially outrageous in conditions when Washington’s anti-Russia restrictions have impaired the efficiency of the verification procedures stipulated in the treaty. As the result, Russia’s ability to freely conduct verification inspections on a fully equal basis in US territory has been curtailed, creating obvious unilateral advantages for the United States.

The statement added that it has, more than once, provided an assessment of the situation to the American party and invariably called on Washington to take action to balance the situation with due regard to Russia’s concerns. However, Washington continued to take deliberate and malicious steps to undermine Russia’s security. The stakes in the hybrid war launched against Russia by the United States are rising.

Taking all these circumstances into account, Russia has come to the conclusion that the United States has seriously violated the New START Treaty and that this violation is of fundamental importance for the realisation of the treaty’s objective and goals. In this context, President of Russia Vladimir Putin announced in his February 21 Address to the Federal Assembly that Russia would suspend the New START Treaty.

In order to maintain the necessary level of predictability and stability in the nuclear missile area, Russia will take a prudent approach and will continue to strictly comply with the quantitative restrictions stipulated in the treaty for strategic offensive armaments within the life cycle of the treaty. Russia will also continue to exchange notifications of ICBM and SLBM launches with the United States in accordance with the relevant Soviet-US agreement signed in 1988.

According to the explanation, the decision to suspend the New START Treaty can be reversed if Washington demonstrates the political will and takes honest efforts towards general de-escalation and the creation of conditions for resuming the comprehensive operation of the treaty and, consequently, its survival. Until then, any steps to accommodate Washington with regard to New START are absolutely out of the question.

Foreign Ministry has urged the United States to refrain from taking any steps that might hinder the resumption of the treaty if conditions for this are created.  “We are convinced that the treaty’s potential in terms of its contribution to strengthening international security and strategic stability is far from exhausted. On the other hand, it can only be used in full measure if conditions are re-established for the parties’ symmetrical, equal and strict compliance with the treaty,” it said.

Foreign Ministry intended to closely monitor subsequent actions by the United States and its allies in the area of strategic offensive weapons and international security and strategic stability as a whole, as well as analyse them for possible damage to Russia’s interests and the need for us to take additional countermeasures.

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