The Russian and United States flags
The Russian and United States flags fly near a factory in Vsevolozhsk, Leningrad region, Russia, March 27, 2019

What is the importance of the new START Treaty between Washington and Moscow

The main purpose of the agreement is to establish a control system that is carried out through mutual inspections of the respective arsenals.

The Treaty known as START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) establishes controls and limits to 1,500 tactical nuclear warheads that both the United States and Russia are authorized to deploy from their land and sea launch platforms. That amount also includes nuclear-headed missile systems that can be deployed from the airspace of each of the signatories. The agreement’s main purpose is to establish a control system that is carried out through mutual inspections of the respective arsenals.

Washington’s current concern is that the Russian Federation is in breach of its obligations under the New Start Treaty. Moscow is not doing its part by not allowing the routine inspections that have been agreed under the treaty inside its territory.

According to a source close to the State Department, GLM was able to learn of the Russian refusal to favor the activities that allow the inspections agreed by both signatory countries of the agreement. Moscow’s conduct blocked the possibility for the United States to carry out controls in compliance with the treaty, which jeopardizes the control activity in the matter of nuclear weapons proliferation agreed at the time between Washington and Moscow.

Regarding Washington’s concern, it was generated at the beginning of last January when Putin’s reluctance to the agreed verifications and controls began to be perceived. Given this, the United States formally filed a diplomatic complaint that gave rise to a specific accusation against Russia of violating the nuclear arms control agreement due to its repeated refusal to authorize inspections on the ground and also for not attending the meeting that it was expected to take place last Wednesday to discuss matters related to the treaty. With that absence, Moscow deepened American concern as the Ukraine war rages on and Vladimir Putin’s threat to use tactical weapons has not abated.

However, Russia also did not comply with the obligation derived from the treaty to convene a session of the Bilateral Consultative Commission in accordance with the schedule agreed in the treaty itself. This scenario opens an additional dispute to the existing crisis between Washington and Moscow and exhibits for the first time the accusation of one of the parties of non-compliance and violations of the Russian counterpart. The disagreements exacerbated and triggered hours of direct tensions between the United States and Russia that aggravate relations between the two countries over the war launched by the Kremlin against Ukraine.

Considering the repeated threats that President Putin has made on different occasions when maintaining that -if necessary- in the face of an imminent danger for Russia he would not rule out a special operation in which it makes use of nuclear weapons, the United States accompanied his complaint with a harsh accusation. of “flagrant Russian violation” of the agreement.

The Start treaty was signed during the administration of President Barak Hussein Obama in 2011 and regulates the number of nuclear warheads that both the United States and Russia can deploy at any time based on their national defense needs. During the month of January 2021, the Duma deputies agreed to vote positively and although there were delays, they finally approved a five-year extension of the original treaty signed with Washington. This action was executed a few days before the date of completion of the treaty. However, the United States and its European allies have expressed deep concern in the event that Russia refuses to renegotiate a new agreement on the matter so that it continues in force after the current one expires in three years as agreed. Western intelligence sources maintain that the direction and results of the Ukraine war will determine Moscow’s future decisions.

It must be remembered that the treaty is the last comprehensive agreement on tactical and nuclear weapons after the end of the Cold War, it grants both countries the power to carry out inspections and controls of the sites where the two nations store nuclear warheads. The inspections were agreed upon since 2020, but due to international limitations that arose during the Covid-19 pandemic, they could not be carried out on Russian territory, for which reason Washington accused Moscow of using excuses to neutralize and delay the work of the Advisory Commission. Bilateral agreement on the treaty, which was created for this purpose and to comply with the inspections. In this regard, a meeting was also scheduled to organize the task of mutual controls to be held in November 2020 in Egypt, however, that meeting was canceled by Moscow at the last minute, alleging aspects related to health policies derived from the pandemic.

After the unsuccessful meeting in Cairo, the United States summoned Russia on two occasions during 2022 to normalize what was agreed in the original treaty and resume the talks and activities planned in order to comply with the agreement. However, Russia never responded to both requests until last Wednesday when the State Department released a detailed document sent to Congress reporting the anomalies in relation to the impossibility of carrying out the verification and the control committed to in the treaty, thus formed for the first time after the end of the Cold War the only official denunciation of a US government directly accusing Moscow of violating the agreement.

US President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin meet for the US-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland June 16, 2021
US President Joe Biden and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin meet for the US-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland June 16, 2021

At present, the events of the Ukrainian war have placed Russia in the spotlight of many in public opinion and the international community, Putin’s closeness to controversial states that are supplying Moscow with conventional weapons systems that are used against the Ukrainian forces, but also against cities and the civilian population, this has not placed Russia in a pleasant place in the eyes of Western Europe. However, Moscow has no problems that it cannot handle and intends to return to compliance with the Treaty.

Normalizing its obligation arising from the treaty is not complex for Russia, what it must do is simple, Putin would resolve the situation by authorizing inspection activities on its territory, he has already done so several times within the framework of the same Treaty, even in the past he sent different diplomatic committees to meet with the Bilateral Consultative Commission, with whom they agreed on actions and modalities of control and inspection indicated in the bilateral legal instrument.

On the US side, there is no impediment from the Biden administration for Russian inspectors to carry out their findings in the United States. However, at the moment there is no interest in doing so on the part of Russia. Thus, given the blockades and delays presented by Moscow and the little interest shown in complying with the treaty, a group of Republican legislators condemned the Russian violations and warned that the infraction carries serious implications for US national security and demanded that President Biden maintain a state of alerts the Armed Forces in the event that they need to respond to a potential Putin attack.

The relevant fact is that last Wednesday and in response to Washington, Russian deputies approved a five-year extension of the agreement in a session held urgently. Thus, they prevented the nuclear arms control treaty from expiring by approving a bill to expand it that President Putin would ratify as law next week, according to what was reported by the Russian news agency Tass. This happened after President Biden discussed the extension of the treaty via teleconference with Putin between Monday and Tuesday.

The position of the chairman of the Armed Services Committee of the House of Representatives, Mike Rogers, a Republican from Alabama, clearly expresses his block’s thinking regarding Russia and the demand to assume responsibility and be accountable for their actions in the case. that the New Start Treaty or any future agreement will not be respected by Moscow, for which reason it requested through a document backed by its bloc that President Biden order the Department of Defense to prepare for a future in which Russia can deploy warheads nuclear weapons that exceed what is authorized by the New Start Treaty. Consequently, far from stabilizing the controversies in nuclear matters, the relations between both countries in the matter continue dangerously unstable.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.