Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he is suspending Moscow’s participation in the nuclear arms treaty between Russia and the United States, warning Russians it was “the West who unleashed the war,” not them.
In a lengthy speech to his country’s parliament, the Russian leader reiterated claims that the administration of current Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “neo-Nazi” in its ideology.
Putin also insisted that his administration “did everything possible, really everything possible, to solve this problem by peaceful means,” but Western powers did not allow Ukraine to accept such a resolution, Reuters reported.
Putin did not appear to include Russia’s invasion and colonization of Crimea in 2014.
“I am forced to announce today that Russia is suspending its participation in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty,” Putin said.
“I want to repeat this: it was they who unleashed the war, and we used force to stop it,” Putin asserted.
The New START treaty was signed in 2010 and came into force in 2011 before being extended in 2021 for five more years just after Joe Biden took office.
Analysts said Russia’s move to suspend the treaty meant it would become more challenging to verify continued compliance with the treaty.
“Suspension of the treaty is not equal to leaving the treaty, I assume there will be no Russian build-up above the treaty limits,” Andrey Baklitskiy of the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research said on Twitter.
“But there will be much fewer opportunities to verify this (only national technical means), so compliance will be disputed,” he added.
In his speech, Putin said Putin said the West was directly involved in Ukrainian attacks on bases for Russian strategic bomber planes deep inside Russian territory.
The Russian leader then said NATO demands for Russia to allow inspections of its nuclear bases under the New START treaty were, therefore absurd.
“The U.S. and NATO openly say that their goal is to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia. And what – after that, they are going to drive around our defence facilities, including the newest ones, as if nothing had happened?” Putin said.
“A week ago, I signed a decree on putting new ground-based strategic systems on combat duty. Are they going to stick their nose in there too, or what? And they think that everything is so simple? What are we going to let them in there just like that?”