World affairs

Russia to suspend participation in last nuclear pact with US. – All you need to know about START treaty

Russian resident Vladimir Putin on Tuesday announced the suspension of participation in the last remaining nuclear START treaty with the United States. President Putin also cited new ground-based strategic nuclear weapons on combat duty that Russia possessed.

“I am forced to announce today that Russia is suspending its participation in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty(START),” Putin told his country’s political and military elite. The statement comes as it is going to be a year since Russia unleashed a ‘special military operation’ on the east European country Ukraine. The New START Treaty is due to expire on 4 February 2026.

Meanwhile, US has said that it remains ‘ready’ to talk about arms control with Russia.

Russia had earlier this month said that it wanted to preserve the treaty, despite what it called a destructive US approach to arms control. The Russian leader said that some people in Washington were thinking about resuming nuclear testing and that Russia’s defence ministry and nuclear corporation should therefore be ready to test Russian nuclear weapons if necessary. However, Putin also maintained ‘we will not do this first’.

“If the United States conducts tests, then we will. No one should have dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be destroyed.” Putin said.

What is New START Treaty?

The Treaty between the United States and Russia on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, also known as the New START Treaty, was signed between then Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in 2010.

The New START treaty caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy. It came into force in 2011 and was extended in 2021 for five more years after US President Joe Biden took office.

The New START Treaty limited both sides to 1,550 warheads on deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. Both sides met the central limits by 2018. Together, Russia and the United States account for about 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads, and both sides have stressed that war between nuclear powers must be avoided at all costs.

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Vladimir Putin during his major speech said Russia was tilting towards Asia after the West hit it with the most severe sanctions in modern history. This being said, Russia’s hunger for newer weapons and missiles, could take Putin to North Korea, wherein, even a relatively modest arms deal would help lift the country’s cash-starved and stagnant economy into growth.

North Korea’s border closure during the pandemic put its already anemic economy into its biggest contractions in decades. Therefore US’ allegation that North Korea has already been supplying arms to Russia for the war with Ukraine, and North Korea’s refusal, a deal would possibly turn the economy future of the country.

Notably, Russia has in recent months used its veto power at the United Nations Security Council to block additional sanctions on North Korea for its ballistic missile tests. North Korea is one of the few countries that have recognized the Kremlin-controlled “People’s Republics” in Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.