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Russia withdraws from nuclear arms treaty with US amid Biden’s Visit to Kyiv

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Amid President Joe Biden’s unplanned visit to Ukraine and his fresh pledge of support for the country, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday that Russia would withdraw from a significant nuclear treaty, escalating tensions with the United States. Putin’s announcement came shortly after Biden made a surprise and historic visit to Kyiv, where he was set to give a speech from Poland on his perspective of Russia’s war in Ukraine as the conflict approaches its one-year mark.

During Putin’s two-hour speech to both houses of the Russian Parliament, he stated that Moscow’s involvement in New START, a treaty on reducing strategic nuclear arms between the US and Russia, was being suspended. Putin did not provide further details on why this move was made, aside from blaming the United States and NATO. He mentioned he was “forced to announce” Russia would be pulling out from the strategic offensive arms treaty.

New START is the only existing nuclear arms reduction agreement between the United States and Russia, which was signed in 2010 and renewed for five years in 2021. This treaty imposes a limit of 1,550 long-range nuclear warheads on both sides.

Putin, as he has repeatedly done in the past, attributed the war’s cause to the West, claiming that the US and its European allies have aspirations of obtaining “limitless power.” He further alleged that Ukraine’s supporters were engaging in “playing a dirty game,” that NATO members were discussing supplying nuclear weapons to Ukraine — a claim that is not true — and that US military bases were present throughout the entire world.

During his speech, Putin asserted that the Western-imposed economic sanctions on Russia were ineffective and that Russian farmers had achieved a “record” grain harvest, despite accusations of grain theft from Ukraine over the past year. He also disclosed his plans to enhance Russia’s diplomatic and economic relationships with India, Iran, and other Middle Eastern countries.

A significant portion of Putin’s address was devoted to domestic policy, including infrastructure investment and financial reforms. He commended Russian soldiers and affirmed his intention to continue the Ukraine invasion that he authorized a year ago without introducing any new military objectives concerning Ukraine. Putin declared that Russia would not initiate a nuclear strike in Ukraine and would only carry out nuclear testing if the United States did so first.

In the meantime, Biden is scheduled to present his speech in Warsaw the day following his unscheduled visit to Ukraine, during which he met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and reiterated the United State’s commitment to providing long-term assistance and weapons to Ukraine.

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