Chris Lange, FISM News
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that he had suspended his country’s participation in the last remaining nuclear treaty with the U.S. as tensions between Moscow and Washington have reached a fever pitch over the war in Ukraine.
“In this regard, I am forced to announce today that Russia is suspending its participation in the strategic offensive arms treaty,” Putin told lawmakers in a long-delayed state-of-the-nation address to Russia’s parliament.
The Kremlin leader also put Washington on notice that Russia had put new ground-based strategic nuclear weapons on combat duty.
Putin claimed that the U.S. was contemplating resuming its nuclear testing and said that it is therefore imperative that Russia is prepared to do the same.
“Of course, we will not do this first. But if the United States conducts tests, then we will. No one should have dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be destroyed,” he said.
The Kremlin has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world and Russia and the United States together possess 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads – “enough to destroy the planet many times over,” per Reuters.
Washington and Moscow entered into the New START treaty in 2010 under the Obama administration. The agreement established the number of nuclear warheads both the U.S. and Russia can deploy at any time and allowed both parties to inspect the other’s weapons sites 18 times per year.
Russia agreed to a five-year extension of the treaty in January 2021, weeks before it invaded Ukraine.
Earlier this month, the U.S. accused Russia of violating the treaty by refusing to engage in required talks or allow onsite inspections. A State Department spokesperson said at the time that Moscow had failed to comply with the treaty’s “obligation to convene a session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission in accordance with the treaty-mandated timeline,” after the Kremlin pulled out of a scheduled meeting of the Commission in November 2022.
PUTIN ACCUSES WEST OF SEEKING ‘UNLIMITED DOMINATION’
During his address to Russia’s parliament Putin touted the war effort and blamed the West for exacerbating the conflict.
"It's the West who started the war." pic.twitter.com/5v06dGmyAj
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) February 21, 2023
The speech came amid intense pressure over halting the military’s offensive in Ukraine nearly a year after he launched his “special military operation” meant to topple Kyiv’s government in a matter of weeks.
Putin said Western powers are “striving for…unlimited domination” and said his military is “defending people’s lives.”
“We aren’t fighting the Ukrainian people,” Putin said, claiming instead that Ukraine “has become a hostage of the Kyiv regime and its Western masters, which have effectively occupied the country.”
BIDEN TO HIGHLIGHT RUSSIAN BRUTALITY IN WARSAW SPEECH
Meanwhile, President Biden arrived in Warsaw this morning following Monday’s surprise trip to Kyiv aimed at underscoring the United States’ long-term commitment to Ukraine.
Biden was welcomed by Polish President Andrzej Duda upon his arrival and will later give a speech to mark the Feb. 24 anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
⚡️ President of Poland Andrzej Duda met USA President Joe Biden in Warsaw. pic.twitter.com/DDacR9ouyW
— FLASH (@Flash_news_ua) February 21, 2023
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN that the president will deliver an “affirmative statement of values,” as opposed to offering a rebuttal to Putin’s grievances.
“There’s a kind of absurdity in the notion that Russia was under some form of military threat from Ukraine or anyone else,” Sullivan added.
President Biden’s remarks will also touch on the brutality of Moscow’s tactics in Ukraine. The U.S. State Department laid the groundwork for the speech by posting “before and after” photos of Ukraine on its website Tuesday. The images feature Ukrainian people dancing, playing music, and engaging in everyday activities alongside photos of Ukrainians burying their dead and cities that have been virtually obliterated from the map.
Biden will later meet with the leaders of the Bucharest Nine, a group of Eastern European NATO allies formed after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.