In an address to the Russian people this week, President Vladimir Putin announced that he no longer plans to respect the nuclear arms treaty forged between his country and the United States. He also recommitted to the war against Ukraine.
The speech was part of Putin’s annual meeting with the Federal Assembly on February 21.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Putin placed the blame for the war in Ukraine on the West.
“It’s they who have started the war. And we are using force to end it,” Putin explained during the speech, as reported by NBC 5.
This allegation was offered as justification for reneging on the treaty signed between Washington and Moscow to limit the number of long-range nuclear warheads each can deploy.
“They want to deal us a strategic defeat and are meddling with our nuclear facilities. In this context, I have to declare today that Russia is suspending its participation in the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Arms,” Putin told Russia’s legislature, per the WSJ.
According to the U.S. State Department, prior to the speech, Russia had already allegedly violated the treaty by preventing on-site inspections and dismissing U.S. compliance concerns.
Putin also warned that Russia was willing to test new types of nuclear weapons should the U.S. do so first.
“We know for a fact that certain figures in Washington are considering the possibility of actual tests of their nuclear weapons,” Putin said, per the WSJ.
The secretary-general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, said that Putin’s decision dismantles “the whole arms-control architecture,” per the WSJ.
“I strongly encourage Russia to reconsider its decision and to respect existing agreements,” Stoltenberg said.
The Russian leader also claimed that the West is waging war on Russian culture, religion, and values because “it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield,” per NBC 5.
During the address, Putin also discussed economic concerns with Russian citizens.
He reassured them that the country would survive the economic hardships that followed its invasion of neighboring Ukraine. To this end, as the WSJ reported, he insisted that welfare programs would be prioritized and raised the idea of a fund to help families of soldiers killed in the war.
Last year, Russia’s economy shrank by 2.1%, partly driven by Western sanctions. The Russian government claims this retraction amounts only to a mild recession.
Putin himself argued the economy fared reasonably well last year because the country established new relations with markets outside of the West, the WSJ reported.
As The Dallas Express reported at the start of the new year, Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a public bilateral talk via video call and spoke of striking up strategic cooperation to “the benefit of the peoples of our countries and in the interests of stability throughout the world.”
Months later, as fighting in Eastern Europe continues, the U.S. is concerned that China may soon start supplying Russia with weapons, as The Dallas Express previously reported.