Joe Cirincione explains what it means for Russia to ‘suspend’ compliance with the New START treaty

By | February 21, 2023

In a ten-tweet thread, Joe Cirincione explores the implications of Putin’s announcement:

Let’s break down what Putin’s announcement that he is “suspending” compliance with the New START treaty means. The accord limits the US and Russia to 1,550 operationally deployed strategic weapons. It runs thru 2026 and is the last remaining strategic arms control treaty. 
First, this is a major violation of the treaty. There is no provision for “suspending” compliance with the treaty. It formalizes Russia’s existing noncompliance with the treaty: they have refused to allow inspections of their weapons as mandated by the treaty. 
Second, not only will Russia not restart the inspections suspended during COVID, but it will likely suspend data exchanges and meetings of the Bilateral Consultative Commission. Russia is likely to remain under the limits of the treaty. The US assess no change in deployed forces 
Fourth, Putin’s goal is to stoke nuclear fears to weaken Western support for Ukraine. In his speech, he blames the West for the war, falsely claims he is fighting NATO and the US and that the West is escalating and prolonging the war. He hopes nuclear threats will deter aid. 

Fifth, Putin will use his extensive network to spread these themes in the West and the Global South. As long as nuclear weapons exist, there is risk of their use, but the likelihood that Putin will use these weapon is Ukraine is low.

Seventh, there is no need for the US or its allies to make any change to existing nuclear postures or plans. The violation reduces US ability to verify compliance, but national technical means provide amply verification for now. There is no actual increase in nuclear dangers. 
Eight, the core risk is not imminent use but the continuing dismantlement of the nuclear guardrails that have provided restraint, predictability and verification for over 50 years. Putin and Trump took down many of these security pacts. New START is the last treaty standing. 
Finally, @POTUS struck the right balance in his speech in Poland today. No nuclear threats. Just this: “The appetite of autocrats cannot be appeased, it must be opposed.” Backed by announcement of a NATO meeting in Washington next year for the 75th anniversary of its founding.Image

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