Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukraine for its invasion, and the West for “provoking” Russia into the action.
In what looked like a new change of gear in the crises, Putin in his latest speech yesterday also issued a new warning to the West, while suspending Russia’s participation in a major nuclear arms control treaty with the U.S.
A top official of the Russian administration was however quoted of having tweeted to clarify that the Russian suspension of the Treaty “does not mean withdrawal; return to the Treaty remains possible under certain circumstances.”
In his two-hour-long state of the nation address yesterday, Putin accused the West and Ukraine of starting the war by provoking Russia with NATO’s expansion and new European anti-rocket defense systems.
Putin also used the speech to announce that Russia is suspending its participation in the nuclear arms control treaty, the New START treaty, the last remaining arms control treaty between Russia and the United States.
Previously, the U.S. and Russia had agreed to extend the treaty through February 4, 2026. The Treaty between the U.S. and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, also known as the New START Treaty, entered into force in February 2011.
Russia’s representative to the international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted to clarify that the Russian suspension of the Treaty “does not mean withdrawal; return to the Treaty remains possible under certain circumstances.”
Putin said in his speech that Russia should be ready to test nuclear weapons if necessary.
“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, as carried by Reuters.
In other comments in the address, Putin also said, referring to the West, “They started the war, and we used the force in order to stop it.”
Putin’s speech comes a year – almost to the day – after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a day after U.S. President Joe Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.
“When Putin launched his invasion nearly one year ago, he thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided. He thought he could outlast us. But he was dead wrong,” President Biden said on Monday