Russian President Vladimir Putin said he is suspending his country’s participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with the United States, imperiling the last remaining pact that regulates the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals.
Putin made the declaration in his much-delayed annual state of the nation address to Russia’s National Assembly on Tuesday.
Hours after Putin’s speech, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the decision to suspend participation in the treaty was “reversible.”
The treaty puts limits on the number of deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons that both the US and Russia can have. It was last extended in early 2021 for five years, meaning the two sides would soon need to begin negotiating on another arms control agreement.
Under the key nuclear arms control treaty, both the United States and Russia are permitted to conduct inspections of each other’s weapons sites, though inspections had been halted since 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
While Russia is not withdrawing from the pact completely, it appears to be formalizing its current position. For months, US officials have been frustrated over Russia’s lack of co-operation with the agreement.