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Putin delivers nuclear warning to West over Ukraine, suspends START pact

President Vladimir Putin has delivered a nuclear warning to the West over Ukraine,
suspending a bilateral nuclear arms control treaty and announcing
new strategic systems had been put on combat duty.

Speaking nearly a year to the day since ordering an offensive that has triggered the biggest confrontation with the West since the depths of the Cold War, Putin warned on Tuesday that Moscow could resume nuclear tests.

“The elites of the West do not hide their purpose. But
they also cannot fail to realise that it is impossible to defeat
Russia on the battlefield,” Putin told his country’s
political and military elite.

Cautioning the United States that it was stoking the war
into a global conflict, Putin said that Russia was suspending
participation in the New START Treaty, the last major arms
control treaty between Moscow and Washington.

It limits the number of nuclear warheads the world’s two
biggest nuclear powers can deploy and is due to expire in 2026.

“I am forced to announce today that Russia is suspending its
participation in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty,” said

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Systems on combat duty

In his address, Putin claimed that some
people in Washington were thinking about resuming nuclear
testing and that he had information the US was developing new types of nuclear weapons.

Russia’s defence ministry and nuclear corporation Rosatom should therefore be ready to test Russian nuclear weapons if necessary, he said.

“Of course, we will not do this first. But if the United
States conducts tests, then we will. No one should have
dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be
destroyed,” Putin said.

“A week ago, I signed a decree on putting new ground-based
strategic systems on combat duty. Are they going to stick their
nose in there too, or what?”

It was not immediately clear which ground-based systems had
been put on combat duty. Putin said Ukraine had sought to strike
a facility deep inside Russia where some of its nuclear bombers
are based, a reference to the Engels air base.

Russia and the United States have vast arsenals of
nuclear weapons left over from the Cold War and remain, by far,
the biggest nuclear powers. Between them, they hold 90 percent of the
world’s nuclear warheads.

The New START Treaty limited both sides to 1,550
warheads on deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles,
submarine ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. Both sides met
the central limits by 2018.

The United States said in its 2022 Nuclear Posture
Review that Russia and China were expanding and modernising
their nuclear forces, and that Washington would pursue an
approach based on arms control to head off costly arms races.

Putin blames West, defends Ukraine war in major speech

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