In Russian President Putin’s state of the nation address on Feb. 21, he announced that Russia would be suspending its participation in the New START nuclear arms treaty with the U.S.
The New START treaty (which is short for Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is “the last remaining pact that regulates the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals,” said Rob Picheta, et al. of CNN.
The treaty “enhances U.S. national security by placing verifiable limits on all Russian deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons,” said the U.S. Department of State website. It was put in place on Feb. 5, 2011, by former Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev.
While President Putin has suspended Russia’s involvement from the treaty, this does not mean that the decision is permanent and it can, in fact, be reversed.
According to NPR, “Putin made it clear that Russia wasn’t abandoning the treaty entirely – and the country clarified…that it won’t seek to build up its nuclear arsenal.”
Furthermore, “though a US intelligence assessment in November suggested that Russian military officials discussed under what circumstances Russia would use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, the US has not seen any evidence that Putin has decided to take the drastic step of using one,” said Picheta, et al.
However, Russia has been refusing to cooperate with the U.S. for a while now even before suspending its involvement in the treaty as they have refused to let the U.S. hold inspections of their nuclear arms facilities, another requirement in the treaty.
“It’s just another indication of the extent to which Russia has become increasingly unwilling to participate in civilized international society,” said Derick Hulme, the Arthur Russell Professor of Political Science at Alma College.
This lack of cooperation does not put a lot of faith in the eyes of those who would be affected by Russia’s nuclear weapons, most notably and immediately the people of Ukraine.
Just one day before President Putin made his statement of Russia’s suspension from New START, President Biden secretly visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev.
During his visit President Biden “announced a half-billion dollars in new assistance, saying the package would include more military equipment, such as artillery ammunition, more javelins and Howitzers,” said Kevin Liptak of CNN.
By visiting Ukraine in person, President Biden hoped to “[offer] a singular image of American support for Zelensky, who has spent the past year attempting to rally the world behind his nation and appealing for greater levels of assistance,” said Liptak.
Furthermore, President Biden stated how there was bipartisan support for Ukraine in Congress. “‘For all the disagreement we have in our Congress on some issues, there is significant agreement on support for Ukraine,’” said Liptak.
“The world, I think, in general, has been very surprised at how united NATO has been in countering Russia’s aggression. And it’s because everybody understands that if this is isn’t stopped, then this is the first step in Putin behaving this way in the future,” said Hulme.
While the war between Russia and Ukraine has been happening for over a year now, it may end sooner than people think.
“I think that when you look at the Russian military and its inept, incompetent performance, and the inability to mobilize well-trained and well-committed soldiers, I think what we’re going to see is a much more rapid collapse of Russia than people are maybe anticipating,” said Hulme.