Putin suspends nuclear arms treaty, blames West for Ukraine war

In his state of the nation address, Russian president Vladimir Putin blamed the West for provoking the war in Ukraine and announced the suspension of Moscow's participation in the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

The treaty, signed by the U.S. and Russia in 2010, came into effect on Feb. 5, 2011.  It limited the number of intercontinental-range nuclear weapons the two nations can deploy.

However, hours after his address, the Russian Foreign Ministry said "it will respect the caps on nuclear weapons under the New START nuclear arms control treaty," according to the AP.

Putin argued that it was Russia, not Ukraine, fighting for its existence.

"We aren't fighting the Ukrainian people.  The Ukrainian people have become hostages of the Kyiv regime and its Western masters, which have effectively occupied the country," he said.

While explaining his decision to suspend the New START, Putin accused the U.S. and its allies of wanting to see Russia's defeat in Ukraine.

"They want to inflict a 'strategic defeat' on us and try to get to our nuclear facilities at the same time," he said.

The Russian president blamed countries like the U.S. for starting the war in Ukraine.

"It's they who have started the war.  And we are using force to end it," he said.

The U.S. has supplied nearly $80 billion in aid to Ukraine, of which $46 billion came from military aid.

Putin also accused Western nations of targeting Russia's culture and religion because they are aware that "it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield."

"See what they do with their own peoples — the destruction of the family, cultural and national identity, perversion, mockery of children, and pedophilia are declared the norm," he said.

"Millions of people in the West understand that they are leading to a real spiritual disaster," he added.

He said adults have a right to live as they wish, and Russia has no intention of invading their private lives.  However, he advised people to "look at the Holy Scriptures," arguing that the Bible says that family is the union of a man and a woman.  These remarks drew applause from the audience.

President Joe Biden responded to Putin's speech during his visit to Poland, declaring that Russia's suspension of the New START was a "big mistake."

Biden also said that NATO is "more unified than ever before."

"Putin is confronted with something today that he didn't think was possible a year ago — the democracies around the world have grown stronger, not weaker; but the autocrats around the world have grown weaker, not stronger," he said.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, 2022.

Image: World Economic Forum via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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