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21 Feb 2023
Matt Berg

NextImg:‘Irresponsible’: Blinken raps Putin decision to suspend nuclear treaty with U.S.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken bashed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to suspend a nuclear pact with the U.S., calling it “deeply unfortunate and irresponsible.”

As a result, the U.S. will “be watching carefully to see what Russia actually does,” Blinken told reporters in Athens on Tuesday. “We’ll of course make sure that, in any event, we are postured appropriately for the security of our country and our allies.”

The New Nuclear Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, signed by President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads both countries can deploy. In 2021, President Joe Biden and Putin extended it for another five years, aiming to avoid an arms race between the world’s largest nuclear powers.

The treaty is the last remaining nonproliferation agreement between the pair after another key nuclear accord, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, expired in 2019.

On Tuesday, Putin announced that he’s suspending Moscow’s participation after accusing the U.S. of being involved in attempting to strike bases in Russia. He stopped short of a complete withdrawal, however.

Putin made the remarks the same day Biden was in Poland to give a speech marking the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and one day after he made a surprise visit to Kyiv.

The U.S. in January accused Russia of not complying with the treaty by not allowing the United States and NATO to inspect its nuclear facilities. The pact includes limits on systems such as intercontinental ballistic missiles and deployed nuclear warheads.

“When the administration started, we extended New START because it was clearly in the security interest in our country and actually in the security interests of Russia,” Blinken said. “And that only underscores what an irresponsible action this is.”

“Of course, we remain ready to talk about strategic arms limitations at any time with Russia,” Blinken added, “irrespective of anything else going on in the world.”

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