The decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin to suspend Russia’s participation in the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) puts at risk the sole remaining treaty limiting US and Russian nuclear forces. Moscow is now violating a number of New START’s provisions, though Russian officials have asserted that Russia will continue to observe the treaty’s numerical limits.
Retaining New START is in the United States’ interest. The Biden administration should therefore respond calmly to Russia’s decision and continue to observe New START’s numerical limits as long as it assesses that Russia is doing so. For a limited period, the United States should keep observing the treaty’s transparency measures by providing required data and notifications. At the same time, the White House should ask the Pentagon to prepare a list of US response options should Russia break out of the treaty’s limits.
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