START 1 Treaty: On Tuesday, February 21, during a speech to his nation, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will halt its involvement in New START, which is the final significant military agreement that remains in operation between Russia and the United States. This announcement comes shortly before the first anniversary of the commencement of the Ukraine conflict.
In Putin’s view, the demand by the US to inspect Russia’s military sites as required by the treaty, while simultaneously aiming for Russia’s strategic defeat, is nothing short of “theatre of the absurd.”
Putin highlighted that the ultimate objective of the US and NATO is to defeat Russia in a war, and they are attempting to gain access to Russia’s nuclear facilities in the process. He noted, “They want to inflict a ‘strategic defeat’ on us and try to get to our nuclear facilities at the same time.”
He further stated that despite the US pushing for inspections of Russian nuclear facilities under the treaty, NATO allies have supported Ukraine’s drone attacks on Russian air bases that house nuclear-capable strategic bombers.
What is the START 1 Treaty between Russia and the US?
The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) was a groundbreaking agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union that aimed to reduce and limit the number of nuclear weapons each country possessed. Signed in 1991, START I was a significant moment in the history of the Cold War, as it marked the first time when the two superpowers agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals in a verifiable manner.
The negotiations for START I began in the mid-1980s, as both the US and the Soviet Union recognized the need to limit the dangers of nuclear weapons. These talks were complex, with numerous obstacles to overcome, including disagreements over verification procedures and the precise number of warheads to be limited.
The treaty was signed by US President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev on July 31, 1991, in Moscow. It required both sides to reduce their deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers. The treaty also established a comprehensive verification regime, including on-site inspections and data exchanges, to ensure compliance.
Under the treaty, the US and Soviet Union agreed to reduce their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to a maximum of 6,000 each. The number of deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers was also limited to 1,600 for each side. Additionally, the treaty mandated the destruction of excess weapons and delivery vehicles, as well as the conversion of missile silos and launchers to non-nuclear uses.
The START I treaty represented a significant step towards arms reduction and disarmament, as both sides recognized the dangers of the arms race and the need to move towards a safer world. The treaty was seen as a major diplomatic achievement, as it helped to reduce tensions between the US and the Soviet Union and paved the way for further arms control agreements.
Despite its success, START I faced numerous challenges, particularly in the post-Soviet era. The breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 raised questions about the control and security of the nuclear arsenal, while subsequent disputes over missile defence systems and the expansion of NATO further complicated the arms control landscape.
In conclusion, the START I treaty was a historic moment in the history of the Cold War. The treaty helped to reduce tensions between the two superpowers.
What is the NEW START agreement?
The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is a bilateral treaty between the United States and Russia signed on April 8, 2010. The treaty is designed to limit the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, the number of deployed and non-deployed intercontinental ballistic missile or (ICBM) launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile or (SLBM) launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments to 700.
The treaty’s primary goal is to promote stability and reduce the risks of an accidental nuclear war. It achieves this by creating a framework for transparency, predictability, and stability in the nuclear relationship between the United States and Russia. It requires each side to exchange data on their nuclear arsenals and provide notifications of any significant changes to their nuclear forces.
The New START Treaty replaced the previous Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expired in December 2009. The New START Treaty is seen as a critical step in reducing nuclear tensions between the two countries and preventing a new arms race. However, some critics argue that the treaty is too limited and does not go far enough in reducing nuclear arsenals.
Read more: And Ukraine loses Bakhmut
The future of the New START Treaty became uncertain after President Donald Trump announced in 2018 that he would withdraw from the treaty unless Russia agreed to negotiate a new agreement that also included China. However, the Biden administration announced in January 2021 that it would seek a five-year extension of the treaty. The extension was finalised on February 3, 2021, and will expire on February 5, 2026.
The extension of the treaty is an essential step in maintaining the stability and predictability of the U.S.-Russia relationship. The treaty has been instrumental in reducing nuclear tensions between the two countries, and its extension is a critical achievement in promoting international peace and security.
In conclusion, the New START Treaty is a critical agreement that provides a framework for transparency, predictability, and stability in the nuclear relationship between the United States and Russia. While the treaty is not perfect and has its critics, it remains an essential tool for promoting international peace and security.
In some ways, the START pact is similar to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which is also an international agreement that aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and promote peaceful use of nuclear energy. The treaty was opened for signature in 1968 and has been signed by almost all countries in the world.
Under the NPT, countries that possessed nuclear weapons at the time of the treaty’s signing, that is, the US, UK, France, China, and Russia agreed to work towards disarmament, while countries without nuclear weapons agreed not to develop or acquire them. The treaty also recognizes the right of countries to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Speaking of the NEW Start Treaty, one of the key players in international politics, former president Donald Trump was once in support of the agreement. His administration extended the treaty in 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump pushed for the extension of the treaty between Moscow and Washington.
Now, why Putin’s call to withdraw from the pact will have deadly consequences?
The relations between the US and Russia were strained for years. The two countries have only intensified their competition against each other after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. While Russia has built itself from scratch in the wake of one of the biggest geopolitical episodes in the history of diplomacy, the US conspired with its allies to somehow avert the economic, military and political rise of Russia.
This rivalry between Washington and Moscow grew following the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the emergence of unfounded allegations of election interference in 2016 US presidential polls and the alleged poisoning of the controversial Russian opposition leader, Alexey Navalny.
However, the tensions and conflict between the US and Russia which the political analysts and defence experts are witnessing currently in the wake of the Russo-Ukraine war are unprecedented. The relations between Washington and Moscow have significantly declined, they are at an all-time low.
Since the US and Russia have turned down any option for a diplomatic negotiation to resolve the Ukraine conflict, both countries have halted their bilateral cooperation on the nuclear front. Unlike earlier, Washington and Moscow no longer communicate about their nuclear plans, ambitions, deployments and testing spots with each other. The terms of the START agreement state that Russia and the US need to divulge the details of their nuclear arms to one another but owing to the intensifying warfare in Kyiv, none of this is happening.
But this was not happening earlier thanks to the implementation of the New Start treaty. Both Russia and the US have had a constructive bilateral relationship. Moscow and Washington allowed the other’s compliance teams to carry out 328 on-site inspections of their nuclear stockpiles and have given access to data and provided about 25,311 notifications on the status of their programs.
However, with Putin’s withdrawal from the agreement, it is certain that the inspections, data sharing and accessing of notifications will no longer take place between Washington and Moscow.
This means that Russia will no longer communicate to the US about the crucial aspects of its nuclear programme. In addition to concealing the sites of its nuclear deployments, Putin will also conduct surprise testing of missiles and other lethal equipment. This will be perceived as a direct threat by the West, which will certainly retaliate by launching its own testing and even conduct attacks on Russia.
Therefore, the decision of Vladimir Putin to withdraw from the NEW START agreement with the US will have tremendous repercussions for the future of geopolitics. The escalating warfare between Moscow and the US and Europe will only intensify, bringing back the days of the Cold War era. Perhaps the numerous predictions and theories of defence experts and analysts that the world will descend into a phase of “Third World War” will come true.