Russia “Suspends” START Treaty
By releasing a statement regarding the New START Treaty on February 8, 2023, as well as in the comments by the Foreign Ministry’s senior officials on this topic, the Foreign Ministry provided a detailed assessment of the deplorable state of affairs regarding the implementation of the New START Treaty resulting from the destructive actions by the United States in the context of this agreement, as well as its overall policy line to weaken the security of the Russian Federation and «strangle» our country in political and economic terms.
Building on the approaches outlined earlier, the Foreign Ministry notes the following negative factors preventing the New START from being fully operational, which is the fault of the United States.
The Russian Federation found itself in a radically new security environment resulting from Washington’s extreme hostility and efforts to stir up confrontation, as well as its openly set course for a malicious escalation of the conflict in and around Ukraine.
We would like to point out that the New START’s preamble, which is an integral part of the Treaty, sets forth the commitment by the parties to the principle of indivisible security and forging relations based on mutual trust and cooperation. However, the United States is now openly seeking to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia, while tensions encouraged by Washington go far beyond the Ukraine crisis with the United States and the US-led West trying to harm our country at every possible level, in every sphere and region of the world.
There is every reason to conclude that the United States policy aims to undermine Russia’s national security, which directly contradicts the fundamental principles and understandings set forth in the New START’s preamble and forming its foundation. It would not have been signed without stating these principles. This de facto amounts to a fundamental change of circumstances compared to those prevailing at the time of signing the New START Treaty.
In this situation, it is no longer possible to maintain business as usual with the United States and the West in general, both as a matter of principle and regarding arms control, which is inseparable from the geopolitical, military and strategic reality.
Moreover, the fact that Western countries coalesced around the anti-Russia agenda increasingly impacts their nuclear policy, which constitutes a serious shift in the security landscape. In particular, NATO members have been practicing the so-called «nuclear sharing» for decades, and designated the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as a “nuclear alliance” at a certain point, while also placing a bigger emphasis on nuclear weapons in NATO’s conceptual documents and stating their commitment to further strengthening and improving the combat readiness of the relevant capabilities «assigned» to NATO. We are hearing calls to build up the block’s nuclear infrastructure and expand it eastward. And they are not even hiding the fact that these efforts target our country.
In this context, the integrated nuclear capability of the three nuclear powers within NATO, namely the United States, Great Britain, and France, takes on special importance in today’s environment. This capability can be turned against Russia. In this sense, it is quite symbolic that all NATO countries, including Great Britain and France, have explicitly confirmed their involvement in matters related to the New START Treaty by issuing a joint statement to fully support the US approaches. This political gesture confirmed that Russia adopted a justified position in viewing the nuclear capabilities of the three Western nuclear powers as forming a single whole, taking this factor into consideration when dealing with processes related to nuclear arms limitation and reduction, as well as when exploring matters related to the New START’s future.
Washington has for years disregarded the interrelationship between strategic offensive and strategic defensive weapons, which is also sealed in the New START Treaty. Russia’s statement on missile defence, which was made in the context of the signing and ratification of the Treaty, provided a clear reference to that interrelationship. In that document, we unambiguously pointed out that New START can operate and be viable only if the United States of America refrains from developing its missile defence capabilities quantitatively or qualitatively. Nevertheless, Washington continues to openly take steps in the opposite direction. This factor is acquiring special significance in the context of the overall aggravation of the military-strategic situation.
Of vital importance for assessing compliance with New START is the fact that Washington has long been substantially violating the fundamental provisions of the Treaty on the quantitative restrictions of the parties’ relevant armaments. This includes the unilateral withdrawal from the accountability under the Treaty of over 100 units of the US strategic offensive arms, which Washington has renamed in order to withdraw them from the Treaty provisions or it has declared as converted without giving Russia an opportunity to reliably verify the compliance of such conversion with the Treaty provisions, in accordance with the Treaty. We have pointed out this clear and direct violation on numerous occasions.
In addition, the United States undertook clearly provocative and extremely dangerous attempts to probe the protection of several Russian facilities included in the Treaty. The armed attacks on them, which the puppet regime in Kiev launched, were organised with Washington’s obvious military-technical and intelligence assistance.
In this context, we regard as utterly cynical Washington’s demand that they be given immediate access to these and other Russian strategic facilities declared under the New START provisions on inspections. This is especially outrageous in conditions when Washington’s anti-Russia restrictions have impaired the efficiency of the verification procedures stipulated in the Treaty. As the result, Russia’s ability to freely conduct verification inspections on a fully equal basis in US territory has been curtailed, creating obvious unilateral advantages for the United States.
We have more than once provided our assessment of the situation to the US side and invariably called on Washington to take action to improve the situation with due regard to Russia’s concerns. However, Washington continued to take deliberate and malicious steps to undermine Russia’s security and to raise the stakes in the total hybrid war launched against Russia by the United States.
Taking all these circumstances into account, Russia has come to the conclusion that the United States is in material breach of the New START Treaty which means that this violation is of fundamental importance for the realisation of the Treaty’s object and purpose.
In this context, President of Russia Vladimir Putin announced in his February 21 Address to the Federal Assembly that Russia suspends the New START Treaty.
In order to maintain the necessary level of predictability and stability in the nuclear missile area, Russia will take a responsible approach and will continue to strictly comply with the quantitative restrictions stipulated in the Treaty for strategic offensive arms within the life cycle of the Treaty. Russia will also continue to exchange notifications of ICBM and SLBM launches with the United States in accordance with the relevant Soviet-US agreement signed in 1988.
The decision to suspend the New START Treaty can be reversed if Washington demonstrates the political will and takes honest efforts towards general de-escalation and the creation of conditions for resuming the comprehensive operation of the Treaty and, consequently, its viability. This is exactly what we urge the US side to do. Until then, any steps to accommodate Washington with regard to New START are absolutely out of the question.
We also urge the United States to refrain from taking any steps that might hinder the resumption of the Treaty if conditions for this are created. We are convinced that the Treaty’s potential in terms of its contribution to strengthening international security and strategic stability is far from exhausted. On the other hand, it can only be used in full measure if conditions are re-established for the symmetrical, equal and strict compliance with the Treaty by both parties’.
We intend to closely monitor subsequent actions by the United States and its allies in the area of strategic offensive arms and international security and strategic stability as a whole, as well as analyze them for possible damage to Russia’s interests and the need for us to take additional countermeasures.