Wednesday , March 22 2023

Putin delivers a nuclear warning to the West over Ukraine


MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday delivered a nuclear warning to the West over Ukraine, suspending a landmark nuclear arms control treaty, announcing new strategic systems had been put on combat duty and warning that Moscow could resume nuclear tests.

Speaking nearly a year to the day since ordering an invasion that has triggered the biggest confrontation with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis, Putin said Russia would achieve its war aims and accused the West of trying to destroy Russia.

“The elites of the West do not hide their purpose. But they also cannot fail to realise that it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield,” a defiant Putin told his country’s political and military elite.

Cautioning the United States that it was stoking the war into a global conflict, Putin said that Russia was suspending participation in the New START Treaty, the last major arms control treaty between Moscow and Washington.

Signed by then-US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, in 2010, the treaty caps the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy. It was due to expire in 2026.

“I am forced to announce today that Russia is suspending its participation in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty,” said Putin.

The Russian leader said, without citing evidence that some people in Washington were thinking about resuming nuclear testing. Russia’s defence ministry and nuclear corporation should therefore be ready to test Russian nuclear weapons if necessary, he said.

“Of course, we will not do this first but if the United States conducts tests, then we will. No one should have dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be destroyed,” Putin said.

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

It was not immediately clear which ground-based systems had been put on combat duty. Putin said Ukraine had sought to strike a facility deep inside Russia where some of its nuclear bombers are based, a reference to the Engels air base.

Russia and the United States have vast arsenals of nuclear weapons left over from the Cold War and remain, by far, the biggest nuclear powers. Between them, they hold 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads.

The New START Treaty limited both sides to 1,550 warheads on deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. Both sides met the central limits by 2018. (Int’l News Desk)

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