What is the New START Agreement and why has Russia suspended its implementation?


In February 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the suspension of Russia's implementation of New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). This bilateral treaty between the US and Russia limits both countries to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads on 700 deployed nuclear missiles and bombers.

Russia already stopped allowing inspections of nuclear weapons sites and participation in a bilateral consultative commission. In his speech announcing the decision, Putin declared that the treaty could not be kept separate from the war in Ukraine and “other hostile actions of the west against our country”. However, Russia’s foreign ministry has declared that it will continue to observe limits on the number of nuclear warheads it can deploy under the New START and maintain crucial communication of ICBM missile tests.

This suspension is dangerous and reckless - Russia must immediately return to full compliance with the agreement and continue to adhere to its nuclear weapon limits while pursuing disarmament. It also demonstrates why bilateral agreements will not be enough to guarantee disarmament and reduce nuclear risk. The world needs the nuclear-armed states to take real steps towards joining the global, comprehensive multilateral agreement to eliminate nuclear weapons: the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.