Putin announces Russia is suspending nuclear arms deal with US in stark warning over war on Ukraine

Vladimir Putin has announced that Russia is suspending its participation in a key nuclear arms deal with the US, in a move that appeared to send a stark warning about the use of nuclear powers in the war on Ukraine.

In a scathing one hour and 45 minute-long state of the nation address on Tuesday morning, the Russian president took aim at the West’s support of Ukraine and vowed that Russia will no longer comply with the new START treaty.

“In this regard, I am forced to announce today that Russia is suspending its participation in the strategic offensive arms treaty,” he said.

Moscow is not withdrawing from the agreement altogether, but is suspending its participation, Mr Putin said.

NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg slammed Mr Putin’s comments and urged Moscow to reconsider in a press conference with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

“It is President Putin who started this imperial war of conquest ... As Putin made clear today, he’s preparing for more war ... Putin must not win ... It would be dangerous for our own security and the whole world,” said Mr Stoltenberg.

“I regret the decision by Russia to suspend its participation in a new Start programme.”

The new START treaty is a landmark agreement between the US and Russia, allowing the world’s two largest nuclear powers to reduce and limit each other’s nuclear arsenal.

Under the treaty, which was last extended back in 2021 through to 2026, the two nations are allowed to inspect each others’ nuclear weapons facilities.

However, such inspections have been on hold since 2020.

While this first came as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the US has since accused Russia of refusing to comply with the agreement.

In January, a US State Department spokesperson said that Russia “is not complying with its obligation under the New START Treaty to facilitate inspection activities on its territory”.

"Russia’s refusal to facilitate inspection activities prevents the United States from exercising important rights under the treaty and threatens the viability of US-Russian nuclear arms control,” the spokesperson said.

During Mr Putin’s speech, he accused the US and other Western nations of starting the war and releasing “the genie from the bottle” – despite coming just three days before the one-year anniversary of the day when Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, which has claimed thousands of civilian lives.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in Moscow, Russia (AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in Moscow, Russia (AP)

“They started it,” he claimed.

“The people of Ukraine themselves have become hostages of the Kyiv regime and its Western masters, who have actually occupied this country in a political, military, and economic sense.”

His address came one day after President Joe Biden made a surprise trip to Ukraine, where he pledged another $500m investment to aid the war-stricken nation and announced a wave of new sanctions on Russia.

In his first visit to the country since the start of the war, the US president met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the presidential palace before they toured the city of Kyiv.

“One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands,” Mr Biden said.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Biden said that the historic visit was to show that the US is “here to stay” in its support of Ukraine.

Mr Biden spoke of the US’s “unwavering support” for Ukraine saying “it was important that the President of the United States be here the day that the attack began.

“I thought it was critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about US support for Ukraine in the war,” he said.

“The Ukrainian people have stepped up in a way that few people ever have in the past.”

During the visit, Mr Biden pledged a half-billion dollars of additional military aid which will include more equipment, including artillery ammunition, more javelins and Howitzers.

The US is also issuing a fresh wave of sanctions on Russian elites and companies.

After leaving Kyiv, Mr Biden travelled to Poland where he will hold talks with European allies and deliver remarks on the US’s support of Ukraine.