Russia should reconsider its decision to suspend the New START nuclear arms control treaty with the US, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said.
This comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow was withdrawing from the last remaining nuclear accord with Washington earlier on Tuesday.
“I regret the decision by Russia to suspend its participation in a New START program,” Stoltenberg told a press conference. “More nuclear weapons and less arms control makes the world more dangerous,” the NATO chief added. “That is why I’m calling on Russia today to reconsider its decision.”
The New START treaty caps the number of warheads and the means of their delivery, as well as allows for inspections of each other’s nuclear arsenal.
The 2010 agreement, signed by then presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, replaced the first START treaty concluded by the US and the Soviet Union in 1991.
Moscow and Washington extended the New START for five years in 2021, when ties between the two powers were already strained. The relations reached a new low after Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine last February and the US, together with other NATO members, began supplying Kiev with weapons.
In late January, Washington accused Moscow of violating the treaty by refusing to conduct inspections. On Tuesday, Putin claimed that the West was directly involved in helping Ukraine conduct drone strikes on Russian airfields that house long-distance nuclear-capable bombers.
According to the president, Russia’s requests for inspections laid out in the treaty have been either ignored or rejected. He said it did not make sense to adhere to the New START treaty any more under such circumstances.