President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, February 21st, 2023, declared that Moscow would stop participating in the New START treaty. It is the final existing nuclear arms control agreement with the U.S.A. This decision has increased the tension that Moscow has with Washington regarding the war in Ukraine. The U.S.A. and Russia hold about 90 percent of nuclear warheads on earth.

Putin stated during the state of the nation speech. The Russian president also said that Rosatom, the country’s nuclear energy firm must ensure that Russia was ready to test a nuclear weapon if the United States does the same. This move would end the banning of nuclear weapons tests worldwide. The ban has been enforced since the Cold War ended.

President Putin explained his decision to suspend his nation’s obligations under the New START treaty signed in Prague in 2010. The treaty became valid in 2011 and was extended for five more years in 2021 after President Biden took office. The treaty places a limit on how many nuclear weapons the U.S. and Russia can deploy. It also caps the deployment numbers of submarine and land-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.

Vladimir Putin said that the United States and its NATO allies were openly declaring the goal of seeing Ukraine defeat Russia. Putin added that the U.S.A. and its NATO allies intended to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia and simultaneously attempt to get to its nuclear facilities.

Later, President Putin sent a draft bill on the pact’s suspension to the Russian parliament, which is Kremlin-controlled. The draft bill states that the Russian president will be responsible for deciding when the nation will resume participation in the pact. The president emphasized that Russia would not withdraw from the pact altogether. Several hours after his speech, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the nation would esteem the caps on nuclear arms set under the treaty. According to analysts, Russia’s decision means it would be harder to verify continued compliance with the nuclear treaty.