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Putin issues nuclear warning, suspends participation in arms reduction treaty

By Elizabeth Delaney
|
February 22, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin railed against the U.S. and its efforts to stand with Ukraine and provide the country with aid against the Russian invasion that started a year ago this month.

Putin announced on Tuesday that he is suspending Russia's participation in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in protest to the aid the U.S. has been providing to Ukraine to defend itself against Russian attacks, according to Fox News.

Newest support U.S. is providing to Ukraine

The newest round of U.S. support was extended to Ukraine and its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday when he and President Biden met at Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv.

The U.S. will be providing Ukraine with $500 million in aid as they continue to fight against the Russian invasion.

This is in addition to tens of billions previously provided in aid and military equipment.

This newest package will include shells for Howitzers, anti-tank missiles, and air surveillance radars, but none of the items are new advanced weaponry.

Putin details decision to suspend START

Putin addressed the Russian Federal Assembly on Tuesday in connection to suspending START, according to Reuters.

In the address, he claimed that the U.S. is intending to, "inflict a strategic defeat on us and sneak into our nuclear facilities,” and added that he felt “compelled to announce” Russia would be suspending its participation in START.

Putin further claimed that the U.S. is "developing new types of nuclear weapons,"  and that for this reason the "Russian Ministry of Defense and Rosatom must ensure readiness for testing Russian nuclear weapons. Of course, we will not be the first to do this. But if the United States holds tests, then we will too. No one should be under dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be destroyed."

He derided the notion that the U.S. would think it would be granted access to inspect Russian defense facilities, according to The Hill.

"In the conditions of today's confrontation, it sounds like sheer nonsense," he said.

Russia suspected of cultivating triple alliance with China and Iran

There have been concerns both in Washington and Ukraine that China may decide to offer increased aid to Russia in its war against the Ukraine.

Ukraine's  President Zelenskyy has said he believes China's support would lead into World War III, according to Israel National News.

The possibility of China's increased involvement was also a topic of discussion during an interview with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken during the CBS broadcast of  Face the Nation on Sunday.

Blinken admitted that Chinese companies have been providing non-lethal support to Russia during their war with Ukraine and added that “in China, there's really no distinction between private companies and the state.”

However, the new concern is that China would start providing lethal support.

Blinken said it's been made clear to China that such an action would "cause a serious problem for us and in our relationship."

When moderator Margaret Brennan asked him to clarify what was meant by "lethal support," Blinken specified that, "There's a whole gamut of things that...fit in that category, everything from ammunition to the weapons themselves."

Brennan mentioned that Iran has been offering Russia its support, and it appears Russia may be building an alliance.

"We've seen Iran provide drones that Russia is using in Ukraine to attack civilian infrastructure, to kill civilians. This is something that's been going on for months. We've been working to expose that, to take action against it, to sanction it," Blinken said.

He went on to point out that Russia and Iran are also providing equipment to each other. One item of particular concern is the suspicion that Russia may be providing "sophisticated fighter plans" to Iran.

China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin responded to what Blinken said on Monday during a press conference.

"It is the US, not China, that has been pouring weapons into the battlefield. The US is in no position to tell China what to do. We would never stand for finger-pointing, or even coercion and pressurizing from the US on our relations with Russia," he said.

Interestingly, Iran and China entered a 25 year strategic partnership back in 2020, according to Foreign Policy news.

In addition, China hosted a meeting with Iranian President  Ebrahim Raisi last week, according to the Atlantic Council.