SCOTT RITTER: Arms Control or Ukraine?

The Ukraine-Russia War has scuppered all hopes of arms control agreements between the U.S. and Russia. From Scott Ritter at

As Russia suspends New START, the sooner the Ukraine war ends, the sooner the U.S. and Russia can work to preserve arms control to avert the ultimate disaster.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Feb. 21 address to Federal Assembly. (Kremlin)

Russia experts and national security specialists will be poring over the text of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s address on Tuesday for some time to come, trying to divine hidden meaning.

The fact is, however, Putin’s speech was something rarely heard in Western political circles —unvarnished statements of fact, set forth in a straightforward, surprisingly easy-to-understand manner.

In a world where Western politicians regularly dissemble to shape perception, even if the underlying “facts” are not true (one need only refer to President Joe Biden’s infamous phone call with former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in July 2021, for an example), Putin’s speech was a breath of fresh air — no hidden agendas, no false pretense — no lies.

And on the issue of arms control, the truth hurts.

“I have to say today,” Putin announced near the end of his address, “that Russia is suspending its participation in New START. I repeat, not withdrawing from the treaty, no, but merely suspending its participation.”

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), signed in 2010 as the outcome of negotiations between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, ostensibly caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that each country can deploy at 1,550; limits the number of deployed land-and submarine-based missiles and bombers used to deliver these warheads to 700; and caps at 800 the deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.

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