Putin: Russia Suspends Participation in START

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Russia’s Defense Ministry and Rosatom should ensure that they are ready to test Russian nuclear weapons, the Kremlin head said. The aggressor country Russia has suspended its participation in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Russian President Vladimir Putin said this in an address to the Federal Assembly on Tuesday, February 21. “I am forced to say today that Russia is suspending its participation in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). I repeat, it is not withdrawing from the treaty, no, it is suspending its participation,” he said. According to Putin, Russia, in order to return to the START, “must understand how NATO’s aggregate strike arsenal will be accounted for.” At the same time, he claims that “some figures in Washington are thinking about testing nuclear weapons,” but then Moscow would also conduct them. “The Russian Defense Ministry and Rosatom must ensure that they are ready to conduct tests of Russian nuclear weapons. Of course, we will not be the first to do so. But if the United States conducts tests, we will do it too,” Putin said. We shall remind you that at the beginning of February the US accused Russia of violating the START provisions. This was due to Moscow’s refusal to allow inspection activities on its territory. Then Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that he did not see “hints” of a dialogue on the START Treaty. He also accused the US of destroying the legal and treaty framework for arms control and security. Later, the Russian Foreign Ministry responded to the U.S. claims about the START Treaty. Lavrov’s ministry said it was impossible to conduct business with the US side “as usual”. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is the only remaining element of the once comprehensive arms control treaty system between the US and Russia. This agreement also limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons, such as long-range missiles. Under the START, each country can have no more than 800 nuclear weapon carriers and no more than 1,550 warheads. In February 2021, US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin extended the agreement until 2026. The START agreement provides for regular mutual inspections at intercontinental ballistic missile bases, strategic submarine bases and strategic aviation bases, as well as at loading, storage, repair and test sites. From 2011 to 2020, the parties carried out 328 such inspections. Since 2020 they have – by mutual agreement – not been carried out because of the pandemic.