On February 21, 2023, Vladimir Putin announced in Russia’s version of the “State of the Union” address that Russia was suspending its participation in the New START treaty, which originally went into force in 2011. The New START treaty stands for “New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty,” which is designed to limit the number of nuclear weapons that each country can have in its arsenal.
The media in the United States is using this story to suggest that Putin is a madman who pulled out of the treaty in order to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine and provoke a nuclear war. What they fail to mention, however, is that the U.S. has a long history of irresponsibly pulling out of such treaties — exactly what they are accusing Russia of. In 2019, the U.S. government pulled out of the INF Treaty which was signed with the Soviet Union in 1987, which aimed to place limits on the two nations’ short to medium range missiles. In addition to this, the Biden Administration recently chose not to renew the U.S.’s participation in the Open Skies Treaty, which was aimed at de-escalating military conflicts by allowing member states to carry out unarmed aerial surveillance of other states.
Aside from the hypocrisy of the U.S. government, this whole conversation is completely ridiculous because it suggests that the existence of these treaties will play a meaningful role in reducing the threat and consequences of nuclear conflict. Even if both the U.S. and Russia maintained all of these treaties, the treaties still allow each state to have a nuclear arsenal capable of blowing up the world many times over.
A report last Fall from the organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War showed how even a “limited” nuclear war utilizing just three percent of the global nuclear weapons that countries like the U.S. and Russia have access to would likely result in the death of a third of humanity due to the resulting climate disruptions and famine that would result from the use of these weapons.
Instead of getting caught up in this back and forth in the media about treaties, we need to understand that the only solution to this issue is complete nuclear disarmament. And this will only come about if ordinary people around the world rise up and end this system of economic domination and war that the U.S. and Russian governments are competing within.