The New START Treaty, which is the final nuclear arms treaty between the United States and Russia, continues to fall apart after on Thursday the Biden administration said it would walk away from multiple key obligations stipulated under the agreement, after Moscow already effectively ended its participation earlier this year.
The State Department announced in a Thursday fact sheet that the US will initiate "Four lawful countermeasures in response to the Russian Federation’s ongoing violations of the New START Treaty" which it deemed "proportionate" and "reversible." Further, Russia has been notified in advance of the move.
But the fact sheet underscored that "The United States continues to abide by the treaty’s central limits, and to fulfill all of its New START obligations that have not been included within these countermeasures."
Crucially, the most important of the countermeasures bans all Russian inspectors from visiting US territories. This was the most important aspect to the agreement, given that among the nuclear reduction treaty's chief aims is to ensure inspection and monitoring of each side's nuclear arsenal by the other. However, it had already been on pause since 2020 in relation to Covid restrictions and lockdowns.
Related to central monitoring protocols, the US is also backing away from basic information-sharing with the Kremlin. Washington will now withhold "notifications required under the treaty, including updates on the status or location of treaty-accountable items such as missiles and launchers."
Additionally, data will no longer be shared about future missile tests, including "telemetric information on launches of US ICBMs and SLBMs," according to the State Department.
All of this comes very dangerously as nuclear saber-rattling continues in relation to the Ukraine war. Russia has recently ordered tactical nukes to be hosted on Belarusian territory - a move the West has condemned.
Russian officials have long explained that the country's nuclear doctrine has not changed, warning that nuclear weapons can be deployed only if sovereign Russian territory and the population comes under existential threat. And yet, cross-border attacks from Ukraine have only intensified, including increasing incidents of ground troop incursions, with the use of military hardware, some it provided by NATO allies.
Biden administration acknowledges it keeps crossing Putin’s red lines because he hasn’t launched a nuclear response yet. https://t.co/bmNOu3Ifzf— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) June 1, 2023
Russia has at the same time accused the West of backing these brazen attacks, and has warned of continued escalation. Putin's "red lines" continue to be crossed, almost daily at this point.