U.S. Responds to Russian Suspension of New START Nuclear Treaty

June 2, 2023

The U.S. has responded this week with a number of measures following Russia’s February announcement that it was suspending its adherence to the New START Nuclear treaty.

During an address to the Arms Control Association on Friday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is expected to make clear that the U.S. remains committed to the treaty if Russia also adheres to it, but he will also “signal that we are open to dialogue” to building a new framework when the treaty expires in 2026.

But in the meantime, the U.S. has retaliated against Russia’s “ongoing violations” of the treaty by announcing on Thursday that it was revoking the visas of Russian nuclear inspectors, as well as denying pending applications for new monitors and canceling standard clearances for Russian aircraft to enter U.S. airspace.

Also Thursday, the U.S. said it would stop providing key information about its nuclear arms and some military exercises to Russia.

 Officials in the Biden Administration said they did not believe that suspending the info swap would raise the risk of Russia using nuclear weapons against Ukraine, though they conceded that the treaty had in the past helped the U.S. and Russia better understand how each country operated.

During his annual State of the Nation address in February, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he was suspending participation in the 2010 New START treaty following Biden’s visit to Ukraine to mark one year since Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022. 

Only hours after Putin’s announcement, though, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it would respect the nuclear weapons caps proposed under that treaty.

U.S. officials have also said that the Biden Administration is willing to stick to the warhead caps until the treaty expires.

Even so, Putin’s rhetoric has remained more cryptic than direct. “As before, we will pay increased attention to strengthening the nuclear triad,” he said in a speech during the run-up to February 24, referring to nuclear missiles based on land, sea and in the air.

PHOTO: Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming

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