Putin suspends New START nuclear treaty: Here's what it means for the world

Putin suspends New START nuclear treaty: Here's what it means for the world
Vladimir Putin claims ‘paedophilia is normal’ in West in bizarre speech

Russian president Vladimir Putin will suspend his nation's participation in the New START treaty - unsettling the world given it is the last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the US.

He made the announcement in his state-of-the-nation address, and attempted to justify it by accusing the US and its NATO allies of rooting for Russia's defeat in Ukraine.

The Russian President attacked the West during the wide-ranging speech in which he vowed to continue with the conflict and repeated baseless claims that Ukraine is a Nazi state.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: "I strongly encourage Russia to reconsider its decision and respect existing agreements."

What is the treaty?

New START’s official name is The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.

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It was an agreement between US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and was signed in 2010.

Does this mean Russia has left the treaty?

No, it's a suspension - for now. Putin emphasized that Russia is not entirely withdrawing from the pact yet.

What does it do?

It limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers.

It is necessary given the mutual suspicion between the two countries, and right now Putin is convinced that the US is still working on nuclear weapons and plans to resume banned nuclear tests.

How is it enforced?

On-site inspections are part of the agreement, to make sure both sides are complying.

However, these mutual inspections were suspended at the start of the Covid pandemic and refused to allow them to resume last autumn.

Has it ever expired before?

Almost - just days before it was last due to expire, in February 2021, the two nations agreed to extend it through to 2026.

Putin's latest move comes just one day after Joe Biden made a surprise trip to UkraineBiden made a surprise trip to Ukraine, where he pledged another $500m investment to aid the war-torn nation and announced a wave of new sanctions on Russia.

In his first visit to the country since the start of the war, the US president met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the presidential palace before they toured the city of Kyiv.

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