Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a suspension to his country’s participation in the New START treaty with the United States, an agreement that seeks to promote nuclear arms reduction in the two nations.
In a state-of-the-nation address in the Russian parliament in Moscow on Tuesday, the Russian leader reiterated his view that both Ukraine and its Western allies were responsible for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and warned its opponents it is “impossible” to beat Russia on the battlefield.
He told Russian lawmakers the war in Ukraine is a consequence of decades-long anti-Russian sentiment felt by the West, and claimed the “anti-Russia project… goes back to the 19th century.” He spoke of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as being the origin of an ambition by the West to “tear away from our country these historical territories, which today are called Ukraine. This is what this goal is all about, there is nothing new here, no novelty, everyone repeats things.”
More recently, the Russian leader accused Western leaders of “supporting the 2014 coup” in Ukraine, a revolution that saw the ousting of the pro-Russian government over its refusal to sign a free trade agreement with the European Union and to form closer political ties with the West.
“The coup was bloody, anti-state, anti-constitutional, but it was as if nothing had happened, as if this is the way,” Putin said insisting his country was attempting to defeat the neo-Nazis that have infiltrated Ukraine.
As a result, Russia is defending the lives of the Ukrainian people, the Russian leader claimed, adding that Russia is not fighting Ukrainians but is releasing them as hostages from the grip of the West.
He warned NATO leaders that it was “impossible” to defeat Russia on the battlefield, and insisted his country will continue to use brute force in a bid to stop the war, indicating that continued Western military support to Ukraine was the primary reason for a prolonging of the conflict.
“See what they do with their own peoples — the destruction of the family, cultural and national identity, perversion, mockery of children, and pedophilia are declared the norm,” Putin said in a scathing attack on Western nations.
He accused the West of seeking to turn the “local conflict” in Ukraine “into a global one,” and announced that, as a result of continued Western interference, Russia will suspend the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty signed with the United States in 2010.
The treaty limits the number of nuclear warheads either nation is permitted to deploy, as well as the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers. A total of 18 on-site inspections per year are allowed under the agreement to ensure neither side is ramping up its nuclear capacity.
The state-of-the-nation address was roundly criticized by Ukrainian government officials and across the West.
Ukraine’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak claimed Putin had “publicly demonstrated his irrelevance and confusion,” and was obsessed with “Nazis, Martians, and conspiracy theories.”
“Nobody is attacking Russia. There’s a kind of absurdity in the notion that Russia was under some form of military threat from Ukraine or anyone else,” said White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
“This was a war of choice. Putin chose to fight it. He could have chosen not to. And he can choose even now to end it, to go home,” he added.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg doubled down on the alliance’s support for Ukraine, telling reporters: “Putin must not win. That would show that aggression works and force is rewarded. It would be dangerous for our own security and for the whole world.
“So we must sustain and step up our support for Ukraine. We must give Ukraine what they need to win and prevail as a sovereign, independent nation in Europe.