Biden calls Putin’s suspension of nuclear arms reduction treaty a ‘big mistake’

Public TV English
Public TV English
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WARSAW[POLAND] : US President Joe Biden on Wednesday said that Russian President Vladimir Putin made a “big mistake” when he announced that his country was suspending its participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty.

Biden – who was walking into a meeting with the Bucharest Nine at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, first smiled and responded, “I don’t have time” when a member of the US press asked for his response to Putin. He then paused and said “big mistake,” before walking in for a photo with other leaders.

The Bucharest Nine group was formed in 2015 after the Russian annexation of Crimea, and it consists of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Biden is meeting with NATO leaders in Poland as the Ukraine war approaches the one-year mark. While in Moscow, Putin met with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi on Wednesday. Earlier, Wang met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Putin has said he is suspending participation in New START — the only remaining major nuclear arms control treaty with the US — and sought to blame the West for the Ukraine conflict.

According to the Russian state news agency TASS, Russia’s Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, unanimously passed a bill on suspending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).

The bill passed the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, earlier Wednesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced it. The decision to restore Russia’s participation in New START can only be made by Putin, according to TASS.

On Tuesday, Putin announced his decision to suspend Russia’s participation in the treaty in his address to the Federal Assembly.

Hours after Putin’s speech, Russia’s foreign ministry said the decision to suspend participation in the treaty was “reversible” and that “Washington must show political will, make conscientious efforts for a general de-escalation and create conditions for the resumption of the full functioning of the Treaty and, accordingly, comprehensively ensuring its viability.”

The treaty was essentially paused since Russia had recently refused to open its arsenal to inspectors. Biden met with the leaders of Bucharest Nine NATO Allies and the NATO Secretary General to reaffirm the United States’ unwavering support for the security of the NATO Alliance.

Biden met with leaders of the eastern flank of NATO on Wednesday, praising the leaders of the Bucharest Nine and saying democracy and freedom are at stake in helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia.

“You’re the front lines of our collective defence, and you know better than anyone what’s at stake in this conflict. Not just for Ukraine but for the freedom of democracies throughout Europe, and around the world,” Biden said at the top of the meeting.

“Article 5 is a sacred commitment the United States has made. We will defend literally every inch of NATO, every inch of NATO,” he added.

It’s the principle that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all members. It’s been a cornerstone of the 30-member alliance since it was founded in 1949 as a counterweight to the Soviet Union.

NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Ukraine must get the help it needs and that Russia could not be allowed to chip away at European security.

“We must sustain and step up our support for Ukraine. We must give Ukraine what they need to prevail,” Stoltenberg told a summit of the Bucharest 9 countries.

“When Russia invaded – it wasn’t just Ukraine being tested. Democracies across the globe faced a question. Would we respond? Or look the other way? One year later, we know the answer. We would respond – strong and united,” he said.

Meanwhile, addressing 30,000 people in Warsaw, Biden said, “There is no sweeter word than freedom, no nobler goal than freedom, and no higher aspiration than freedom. All that we do now must be done so our children and grandchildren will know it as well: Freedom.”

Meanwhile, a top defence ministry official, Major-General Yevgeny Ilyin, told the lower house, or Duma, that Russia would continue to observe agreed limits on nuclear delivery systems – meaning missiles and strategic bomber planes.

RIA news agency quoted Ilyin as saying it would also continue to provide Washington with notifications on nuclear deployments in order “to prevent false alarms, which is important for maintaining strategic stability”. (ANI)

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