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Putin Announces Russia Is Suspending Participation in New START Treaty

Feb. 21, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—In his annual Presidential Address to Federal Assembly, Russian President Vladimir Putin presented an extensive review of the world strategic situation and Russia’s role in it, which began with the following stark formulation:

“This Presidential Address comes, as we all know, at a difficult, watershed period for our country. This is a time of radical, irreversible change in the entire world, of crucial historical events that will determine the future of our country and our people, a time when every one of us bears a colossal responsibility.”

In his nearly two-hour-long presentation, Putin reviewed the history leading up to Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, which began one year ago on Feb. 24, 2022, and warned: “The Western elite make no secret of their goal, which is, I quote, ‘Russia’s strategic defeat.’ What does this mean to us? This means they plan to finish us once and for all. In other words, they plan to grow a local conflict into a global confrontation. This is how we understand it and we will respond accordingly, because this represents an existential threat to our country.”

Putin’s formulation will be lost on no world capital. Russian strategic doctrine provides for the use of nuclear weapons only if Russia is attacked first with nuclear weapons, or under an attack which otherwise poses an existential threat to the country.

Putin went further. He announced that Russia was suspending its participation in the New START Treaty, and that one week ago he had signed a decree “putting new ground-based strategic weapons systems on combat duty.”

The Russian President stated:

“They [the West] seek to inflict a strategic defeat on us and to creep onto our nuclear sites. In this connection, I am forced to announce today that Russia is suspending its participation in the New START Treaty. I repeat—not exiting from the treaty, but suspending its participation.” He added that, “at the start of February, the North Atlantic Alliance made a statement factually demanding that Russia ‘return to the implementation of the strategic offensive arms treaty’, including the admission of inspections to our nuclear and defense facilities.

“I don’t even know what to call this—some kind of theater of the absurd. We know that the West is involved directly in attempts of the Kiev regime to strike the bases of our strategic aviation,”

Putin said, pointing to recent Ukrainian drone attacks on Russia’s Engels Air Base.

The drones used in these attacks were “equipped and modernized with the assistance of NATO specialists,” Putin said. “And now they want to inspect our defense facilities. In the current conditions and today’s confrontation, this simply sounds like some kind of nonsense.”

He then asserted: “A week ago, I signed a decree putting new ground-based strategic weapons systems on combat duty. Are they going to stick their nose in there too?”

The Russian President suggested that NATO’s collective statement essentially amounted to an attempt by the bloc to apply to join the treaty, and said Moscow would only welcome such a move. “We agree, please go ahead. Furthermore, we think that such a formulation of the issue is long overdue. After all, NATO contains not just one nuclear power—the U.S.A. Britain and France also have nuclear arsenals, which are being developed and improved, and which are also directed against us, against Russia,” Putin said.

While the Western media ignored the strategic significance of the attack on the Engels base, which hosts Russian strategic bombers, Swiss Col. Ralph Bosshard (ret.), in an article appearing in EIR, made the point that this was an attack on Russia’s nuclear deterrent and could have very well triggered a nuclear response. He called it a “moment of dangerous insecurity.”

Putin’s lengthy address also reported on the steps taken to defend Russia’s physical economy in the face of Western sanctions; his government’s commitment to develop physical infrastructure projects such as the North-South International Transport Corridor, with friendly neighboring countries; the introduction of tax credits for business investment in advanced technologies; and a call for “speeding up the de-offshorization of the economy.”

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