Putin suspends nuclear pact, Biden says support for Ukraine 'will not waver'

Putin Suspends Nuclear Pact, Biden Says Support For Ukraine 'Will Not Waver'
In Poland on Tuesday, Mr Biden proclaimed untiring support for Ukraine and for Nato. Photo: Getty Images
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By Nandita Bose and Guy Faulconbridge

US president Joe Biden will meet leaders of Nato's eastern flank on Wednesday in a show of support after Russia's president suspended a nuclear arms control treaty and accused the United States of turning the Ukraine war into a global conflict.

In Poland on Tuesday, Mr Biden proclaimed untiring support for Ukraine and for Nato, which Russia regards as an existential threat.


"When Russia invaded, it wasn’t just Ukraine being tested. The whole world faced a test for the ages," Mr Biden said in the Royal Castle of Warsaw, the day after he made a surprise visit to Kyiv.

Challenged to respond to Russia's invasion on February 24th last year, Mr Biden said the United States and its Nato allies replied: "Yes, we would stand up for sovereignty. And we did. Yes, we would stand up for the right of people to live free from aggression. And we did."

"And we would stand up for democracy. And we did," he said.

"There should be no doubt: Our support for Ukraine will not waver, Nato will not be divided, and we will not tire," Mr Biden said.


Also speaking on Tuesday, Russian president Vladimir Putin delivered a warning to the West over Ukraine by suspending its last major nuclear arms control treaty with the United States.

Putin told Russia's military and political elite in Moscow that the United States was turning the Ukraine "special military operation" into a global conflict and announced the suspension of Russia's participation in the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty).

Russia's foreign ministry later said it intended to continue abiding by the restrictions outlined in the treaty on the number of nuclear warheads it could have deployed.

'Global confrontation'

"The elites of the West do not hide their purpose. But they also cannot fail to realise that it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield," Putin said.


"They intend to transform a local conflict into a phase of global confrontation," he said. "This is exactly how we understand it all, and we will react accordingly, because in this case we are talking about the existence of our country."

Mr Biden rejected Russia's assertion that Western allies were seeking to control or destroy Russia. He did, however, accuse Russia of crimes against humanity such as targeting civilians and rape.

Russia has denied accusations by Ukraine and its allies of war crimes and targeting civilians.

The speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, said Washington had destroyed the architecture of international stability by ceasing to honour its commitments and rejecting Russia's proposals on global security.


The lower house Duma will on Wednesday consider Putin's draft law on suspending participation in the New START treaty. It is expected to rubber-stamp it.

'Find a solution'

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Putin's suspension of the nuclear treaty was "deeply unfortunate and irresponsible". Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said it made the world more dangerous and urged Putin to reconsider.

China's UN Ambassador Zhang Jun told reporters that the New START treaty and other instruments were important for the global security architecture and "the parties concerned should continue to negotiate with each other in finding a good solution".

Under the treaty that expires in 2026, the United States and Russia may check the other's nuclear arsenal, although tension over Ukraine had already halted inspections.


Nato allies and other supporters have sent Ukraine tens of billions of dollars worth of arms and ammunition, with modern battle tanks promised and some mulling president Volodymyr Zelenskiy's appeals for fighter jets and longer-range missiles.

On Wednesday, Mr Biden will meet leaders of the Bucharest Nine, Nato's eastern members that joined the alliance after years of Cold War domination by the then Soviet Union. They are among the strongest supporters of military aid to Ukraine and have called for more.

Mr Biden is expected to reaffirm security commitments and discuss support for Ukraine before he returns to Washington.


Russia suffered three major battlefield reverses in Ukraine last year but still controls around a fifth of the country and appears to be making progress in eastern provinces.

In the past 24 hours, Russia launched 59 attacks from heavy rocket systems, Ukraine’s military said in an early Wednesday report.

Bakhmut city, the focus of Russian advances in the eastern region of Donetsk, came under shelling, along with 20 other settlements in the area, it said.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the report

Outspoken Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin chastised Russian military leaders, accusing them of depriving his Wagner fighters of munitions in what he called a treasonous attempt to destroy his military company.

The Russian defence ministry rejected his accusation about blocking ammunition as "absolutely untrue".

The biggest land war in Europe since World War Two has displaced millions, left cities, towns and villages in ruins and disrupted the global economy. More than 8,000 civilians have been recorded killed, the UN human rights office said, adding thousands more were thought to have died.

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