1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Putin threatens to drop New START treaty

June 6, 2019

The Russian president has warned that unless the US comes to the negotiating table, a key nuclear weapons treaty will collapse. If it does, it will be the second such pact to fail under Donald Trump's leadership.

Russian strategic nuclear missile Topol-M appears on the Red Square during a Victory Day parade in Moscow
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/epa7S. Ilnitsky

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said an Obama-era nuclear weapons pact would lapse unless the US took an interest in renewing it.

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) pact limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers and is due to expire in 2021 unless renewed.

What Putin said:

Speaking on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin said:

  • "If no one feels like extending the agreement — New START — well, we won't do it then."
  • "We said a hundred times that we are ready (to extend it)," but Washington is "not conducting any talks" with Moscow on the matter.
  • "There won't be any instruments limiting an arms race, for example, deploying space-based weapons."
  • "This means that nuclear weapons will be hanging over every one of us all the time."

Read more: German defense chief urges nuclear arms treaty with Russia

The fear of nuclear weapons

What is the New START pact? The treaty limits the US and Russia to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, well below Cold War caps. It was signed in 2010 by former US President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. It is one of the key controls on superpower deployment of nuclear weapons.

The other treaty: If it falls, it will be the second nuclear weapons treaty to collapse under the leadership of US President Donald Trump. In February, Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), accusing Moscow of violating the agreement. Moscow then followed suit.

aw/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Every evening, DW sends out a selection of the day's news and features. Sign up here.