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What is New START Treaty Russia Suspended Its Participation In?

© AP PhotoThis photo provided by the Defense Department's Missile Defense Agency, taken Jan. 28, 2016, shows a long-range ground-based interceptor is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
This photo provided by the Defense Department's Missile Defense Agency, taken Jan. 28, 2016, shows a long-range ground-based interceptor is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. - Sputnik India, 1920, 21.02.2023
On Tuesday, Russia suspened its participation in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) — the only remaining arms control treaty between Russia and the United States.
In his speech to the Federal Assembly on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia was suspending its activities in the Treaty between Russia and the US on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, START III, or simply New START.

The US poses an unacceptable ultimatum to Russia concerning the New START — Moscow should comply with the terms of the document, while Washington will do what it wants, President Putin said.

In 2021, Russia and the United States negotiated the extension of the agreement until February 2026.
What kind of treaty is it? How is it also important for the architecture of international security? A few questions will help understand the situation.

When Did Russia and US Sign New START Treaty?

The Strategic Offensive Arms Reduction Treaty (START III, START) was signed by the presidents of Russia and the United States, Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama, on April 8, 2010 in Prague.
The proposal to develop START III was first discussed back in March 1997, during consultations between the presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States, Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton, in Helsinki.
According to the 1997 version, START III was planned to set "ceilings" at the level of 2,000-2,500 strategic nuclear warheads and give the treaty an indefinite character (negotiations on this agreement were inconclusive). The initiative to start a new negotiation process in June 2006 was made by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Experts started working on the document after a meeting of Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama in London on April 1, 2009 (within the framework of the Group of 20 Summit). The negotiations ended 11 months later with the signing of the document.

When Was the New START Treaty Ratified?

Both in the US and Russia, the document was submitted for ratification in May 2010. The US Senate approved it on December 22, 2010, while Russia’s State Duma and the Federation Council did so on January 25 and 26, 2011.
Upon ratification, the parties made a number of reservations. A resolution of the US Congress noted that "the new treaty does not impose restrictions on the deployment of missile defense systems, including in Europe."
Russia has reserved the right to withdraw from the treaty if the US missile defense system reaches a level of development where it becomes a threat to Russia. Separately, it was pointed out that the provisions of the preamble, where the relationship between START and missile defense is spelled out, have legal force and must be fully taken into account by the parties.
The laws on ratification were signed by the Russian president on January 28, 2011, and by the president of the United States on February 2, 2011. An exchange of instruments of ratification took place on February 5, 2011 in Munich.

What Are the Provisions of the New Start Treaty?

The agreement stipulates that each of the parties reduce and limit its strategic offensive arms in such a way that seven years after its entry into force (and in the future) their total amounts do not exceed:
700 units for deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers;
1,550 units for warheads on them; 800 units for deployed and non-deployed ICBM and SLBM launchers (PU), as well as heavy bombers.
The Treaty introduced the concept of "non-deployed" carriers and PU, i.e. not in combat readiness, but used for training or testing, and not having warheads (START I and START II covered nuclear warheads placed on deployed strategic carriers).

Has the New START Treaty Between US and Russia Worked?

As of September 1, 2020, Russia had 510 deployed nuclear weapons carriers, 1,447 nuclear warheads, and 764 deployed and non-deployed launchers.
The US had 675 carriers, 1,457 warheads, and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers.
According to experts, an approximate parity between the strategic nuclear forces of Russia and the United States still remains.

Expiration Date and Renewal Discussion

The treaty has one of the most important roles in the architecture of international security. The events in Ukraine and the participation of NATO countries in the conflict have destabilized the situation, forcing the Russian leadership to take this step, namely to suspend its participation in the treaty.
The Russian leadership has pointed out that it cannot trust its US partners to visit the locations of strategic weapons, especially when some of them have been attacked by Ukraine with the help of unmanned aircraft.