Home / Opinion / Views /  Mint Explainer: Why Russia pulled back from its last nuclear treaty with the US

On Tuesday, Russia announced it was suspending participation in the New Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (New START). the last nuclear arms regulation agreement it has with the United States. Mint breaks down the implications of Russia’s move.

Russia and the United States are the world’s pre-eminent nuclear powers, controlling over 90% of nuclear weapons on the planet. Both sides have signed a number of treaties over the decades to limit increases in nuclear stockpiles in order to prevent conflict and ensure stability.

Washington and Moscow signed New START in 2010 and it came into effect in February 2011. The treaty limited the number of strategic weapons both sides could deploy and allowed for mutual inspections of nuclear facilities to ensure compliance.

New START initially ran until 2021 and was extended by presidents Biden and Putin for another five years. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country's foreign ministry announced on Tuesday that Moscow was suspending participation in the treaty.

Russia blamed the United States for its decision. “There is every reason to conclude that the United States policy aims to undermine Russia’s national security, which directly contradicts the fundamental principles and understandings set forth in the New START’s preamble and forming its foundation," read a statement by the Russian foreign ministry.

However, it also made clear that this decision could be reversed and that Moscow was not looking to add to its already massive nuclear arsenal.

America decried the decision as irresponsible and the leaders of several European nations called on Russia to reverse it. Tensions had been building up over the treaty for some time – the US earlier accused Russia of refusing to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities.

Experts worry that Russia’s decision sharply reduces global stability. Arms limitation commitments and inspections helped create transparency and accountability. Uncertainty, tension and instability, especially when it comes to nuclear weapons, signal a far more unsettled world.

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