Putin declares suspension of Moscow’s New START treaty

02/21/2023 By Meghan O’Brien

Photo courtesy of MGN.

Nearly one year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin took to the stands during his state of the nation address to announce Russia’s intention to withdraw Moscow from the New START treaty.

The treaty, signed in 2010 by Russia and the United States, was intended to prevent either country from mutual nuclear destruction by limiting the long-range nuclear warheads each country can legally deploy at a given time. 

However, a few hours after Tuesday’s state of the nation address, Russia’s Foreign Ministry emphasized that Moscow would still respect the limit of nuclear weapons required by the treaty, despite no longer being bound to the pact with the U.S. 

Besides discussing Moscow’s exit from the treaty, Putin’s 100-minute speech also covered his refusal to change his military strategy toward Ukraine. He claimed that “the Ukrainian people have become hostages of the Kyiv regime and its Western masters, which have effectively occupied the country.”

The address occurred recently after U.S. President Joe Biden’s surprise visit to Ukraine. In his brief five-hour visit, Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and emphasized his support for Ukraine by promising more weapons for military use. 

The New START treaty was the last remaining arms control pact between Russia and the U.S. In his withdrawal, Putin cited Biden’s support for Ukraine as his reason for disregarding the treaty’s recent extension of five years, ending in 2026. 

Many members of the United Nations, including Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, have urged the U.S. and Russia to re-establish communication with one another in order to prevent mutually assured destruction. Biden has yet to speak on Moscow’s departure and opted to mention the New START treaty during his appearance in Poland, which occurred one day after Putin’s state of the nation address.