Russia Severs Last Ties With US, Revokes Nuclear Treaty
Russia is no longer bound by the UN-backed nuclear test ban as President Vladimir Putin revoked it amid its ongoing special operations in Ukraine. Last month, he said revoking de-ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) would mirror Russia’s relations with the US.
Moscow says it will not resume testing unless the US does and that its de-escalation does not change its nuclear posture, or the way it shares information about its nuclear activities. However, Western arms control experts say Russia may be inching towards a test to intimidate and evoke fear in Ukraine.
The CTBT was adopted in 1996 to ban all nuclear explosions anywhere in the world. But it was never fully implemented as the United States, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel, Iran and Egypt had not ratified it.
A Slap for US
Vyacheslav Volodin, State Duma speaker, said the move to revoke the treaty was a response to the United States’ cynicism and boorish attitudes on nuclear weapons. In June 2023, US officials said New START makes no provision for a side to unilaterally cease providing updates or notifications, or to impose a blanket ban on on-site inspections. But earlier in March, they said US would not provide the March 1 data update because of Russia’s refusal to provide its update.
The US and Russia relations were already on downhill before Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Washington’s efforts to further isolate Russia highlights that the US no longer wants to prioritize cooperation with Moscow. Its support for Ukraine is critical and is part of an overall strategy designed to degrade Russian capabilities.
And Washington’s lack of desire to push Russia for the treaty reflects US’s belief that it is no longer possible to either move forward on any agenda or partnership with Moscow. Moreover, Russia’s mix of hard, soft and sharp power capabilities creates obstacles for the United States.
Russia Punishing the US
Steven Pifer, the US ambassador to Ukraine 1998 – 2000, said Russia hadn’t expected US to react the way it did to its neo-imperialist war in Ukraine. He believes the cancellation of the treaty is somewhat to punish the United States and other countries that assist Ukraine by attacking nuclear arms control and non-proliferation regime that they support.
However, this will not change the US or western countries support for Ukraine. Pifer highlighted that Russia possesses the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, about 47 percent of the world’s total.