Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday he is suspending Moscow’s participation in the New START treaty, the last remaining U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control pact.
The treaty signed in 2010 limits each country to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads. It is due to expire in 2026.
Speaking during a state-of-the-nation address to the Russian Duma, or parliament, Putin said he is not completely withdrawing from the treaty at this time.
He also said Russia should be ready to resume nuclear weapons testing if the United States does so.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Russia’s announcement “deeply unfortunate and irresponsible.”
“We’ll be watching carefully to see what Russia actually does,” Blinken told reporters. “We’ll, of course, make sure that in any event, we are postured appropriately for the security of our own country and that of our allies.”
He also said the United States remains ready to talk with Russia about strategic arms limitations at any time, even as the U.S.-led Western coalition continues to supply arms to Ukraine to fight against Russia’s nearly year-long invasion.
Blinken said it is in the security interests of both countries to control their nuclear arsenals.
“I think it matters that we continue to act responsibly in this area,” Blinken said. “It’s also something the rest of the world expects of us.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged Putin to reconsider his decision and said, “More nuclear weapons and less arms control makes the world more dangerous.”
“Over the last years, Russia has violated and walked away from key arms control agreements,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels. “With today’s decision on New START, the whole arms control architecture has been dismantled.”
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.