Alwaght- Whereas Ukraine war was expected to abate with the arrival of 2023, the Russia and West's measures indicates that its range is broadening. With massive arms supplies to the Ukrainian forces, the US and its allies sought to beat Russia in Ukraine on the first anniversary of the war, but failed to achieve this aim. Still, the West insists on sending arms to the battlegrounds, making Russia to warn that it is losing patience with the Western warmongering and in recent days it unveiled one of its options to pressurize the West.
On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced suspension of treaty for reduction of strategic arms, dubbed New Start. Putin said that the country that provides weapons to Ukraine and fuels the war cannot inspect Russian nuclear arms.
In an interview with the state TV channel Rossiya, Putin said the US and its NATO allies wanted to “inflict a strategic defeat on us” and at the same time access Russian nuclear sites, but Moscow will not allow that. The Russians have tied any return to the treaty to the US decisions. To this end, Washington should show political determination and take steps towards comprehensive de-escalation.
Suspension of New Start by Russia comes in response to the American warmongering in Ukraine. Although the Russians have warned against Western arms aids to Kiev, the US and Europe are increasing their supplies day by day, and Joe Biden agreed to another half a billion dollars in aids to Ukraine during his visit to Kiev last week. Over the past year, the Western countries have provided Ukraine with about $150 billion in aids, angering the Russians. By suspending the arms control agreement with the US, Russia seeks Western retreat in Ukraine.
Moscow has repeatedly emphasized that Western countries have unofficially gotten involved in the war by supplying weapons to Ukraine. Putin recently said that the West is pursuing only one goal and that is the destruction of Russia. The West could only partly accept Russia into the so-called “family of civilized peoples,” breaking the country into separate pieces. But he vowed Moscow would counter this destructive agenda. During the war in Ukraine, the Russians have repeatedly warned about the dangerous consequences of the destructive actions of Washington and its allies. But turning Ukraine into a NATO embankment for war with Russia has left no other path for the Russians, and the suspension of the New Start treaty shows that Moscow has now started executing its threats.
What is New Start?
The New Start is the last remaining military treaty between the US and Russia, signed to control the number of nuclear warheads and work on their reduction. It was signed by former US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart President Dmitry Medvedev on April 8, 2010 in Prague, Czech Republic. The New Start replaced Start 1 and Start 2 treaties from the Cold War. The deal was signed after months of negotiations aimed at re-establishing military dialogue with the Kremlin, under which the US would have to abandon the deployment of anti-missile shields in Poland and the Czech Republic. This 10-year binding treaty expired in February 2021, but was extended until 2026.
The treaty limits the nuclear arsenals of the two countries, which contain 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, to a maximum of 1,550 warheads, and this is a 30 percent reduction compared to the previous treaty in 2002. The treaty also limits the number of long-range missiles and bombers to 700 and ICBMs to 800. Under the treaty, each side can conduct up to 18 inspections of strategic nuclear weapons sites annually to ensure that the opposite side has not violated the treaty’s limits.
At the beginning of the third millennium, the US sought to get close to Russia’s borders by deploying missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic and monitor the Russian activities, but the Russians strongly opposed this issue and warned the Americans about its consequences. New Start ended this dispute.
During the Cold War, The US and Russia had a lot of unconventional weapons due to their extensive competition, but with the New Start, they evened out their weapons number to maintain the balance. Still, the same number of these weapons is enough to destroy the whole world.
The world a step closer to nuclear war
The military treaties between Russia and the US over the past three decades presented deterrence to confrontation between the two powers, but Ukraine war turned everything on its head and fomented their tensions. Over the past year, the world community has expressed concern about possible withdrawal of the US or Russia from this military treaty, because if the cooperation between the two powers ends, there will be no control over nuclear weapons, and the world will see an increase to number of nukes and the possibility of nuclear war. Russian officials have repeatedly warned that they are ready to use strategic weapons to prevent their defeat and to defend their territorial integrity. With Moscow and Washington have come close to a direct confrontation in the past year, the suspension of nuclear cooperation can give rise to a new crisis in the world.
James Cameron, a member of the Oslo Nuclear Project, said that if New Start is put aside, it means return of Cold War speculations about the capabilities and intentions of the enemy states. There would be great instability on both sides and each would act based on the worst scenarios and add more precise systems to their arms for use of them, and this would end up in highly unstable situation, according to Cameron. If the US takes similar measures, the nuclear powers will strengthen their deterrence, and this can lead to an arms race and deepen the new Cold War the experts say started months ago.
Russia’s new move comes as the Kremlin leaders have repeatedly warned the West about the World War III since the start of the war in Ukraine. It was following these repeated warnings that last month, nuclear scientists moved the Doomsday Clock forwards, stating that Russia’s attack on Ukraine increased the risk of man’s destruction by his own hands.
“This year, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward, largely (though not exclusively) because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine. The Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been,” said a statement.
This move showed that the world is moving towards destruction faster than ever and if one of the parties involved in Ukraine makes a wrong move, it can throw back the world to the Stone Age. Russian and American officials have warned that there is no winner in a nuclear war, and they are trying to avoid any provocative tensions, but in recent months, they have moved towards the escalation of tensions.
Russia’s move and Western arms supplies to Ukraine, which the Americans assert will continue until the defeat of the Russians, heighten the level of global conflict. The US withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) on August 2, 2019. This treaty was signed in Washington in 1987 by American and Soviet leaders to eliminate intermediate and short-range missiles. After the move, Washington under Trump announced the development of the tactical nuclear weapons program, marking the beginning of a new chapter in the nuclear competition of the world’s powers.
By taking such step, Putin raised the dispute level to strategic defense stage, and since control and inspection mechanism over Russian nuclear arms is suspended, it sets a prelude to a new arms race and a possible nuclear war. With its recent decision, Russia is trying to send a message to the West that if they continue their adventures in Ukraine, there will be irreparable consequences for them. But instead of defusing the tensions, the White House is fanning the flames of war in Europe and in the latest reaction, it has stationed its B-52 nuclear bombers in Spain for possible use. The experience of a year of war in Ukraine has shown that the more the West sends weapons to Kiev and the more NATO deploys forces around Russia’s borders, the more would be possibility of direct conflict between NATO and Moscow. This worrisome issue has been increasingly raised by observers in recent weeks.
Europe, which is on the front line of the confrontation with Russia, is more worried about Russia’s new decision than the US, and its leaders have said that this action can change the security structures of their continent. Although it is likely that after the end of the Ukraine war, Moscow and Washington will resume the nuclear arms reduction treaty, it is clear that the effects of the New Start suspension in the field of “deterrence and disarmament” will last for a long time. What the Russians have also pointed out is that this country’s relations with the West will no longer return to the period before the Ukraine war, and the two sides no longer trust each other, and in the future they will try to add to their nuclear and military power against the opposite side. The attempt to improve the nuclear deterrence by the countries possessing these types of weapons will lead to an arms race, like the Cold War period, and will make the world more insecure.
In the Cold War period, the US and Soviet Union had no control or supervision over the nuclear arms of the opposite side and were looking at the rival’s nuclear advancements with suspicion, and this increased the risks of a nuclear war. But in the past three decades, nuclear arms treaties limited the tensions between Washington and Moscow to a large extent. However, they returned to past confrontation since last year, posing risks to global peace. Currently, suspicion is back to the American-Russian relations and a lack of information on each other’s nuclear power will guide them to deeper confrontation.
After Ukraine war start, which led to global geopolitical changes, many countries, including Ukraine itself, have come to the notion that if they have nuclear arms, they can have effective deterrence and can protect their territories from foreign invasion. This notion is now globalized, and if another arms race erupts, other countries will review their stated policies and follow path leading to nuclear armament, as absence of trust among big powers can leave destructive effects on the developing countries.