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Russian President Vladimir Putin declared his nation has suspended participation in the only remaining nuclear arms treaty with the United States. The announcement comes as President Joe Biden continues a surprise trip to Europe ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
In what U.S. media outlets are calling a symbolic “clash” with Putin’s Russia, Biden’s speech in Warsaw, Poland on Tuesday signaled the West’s unflinching support for Ukrainian independence.
“Free people refuse to live in a world of hopelessness and darkness,” Biden said in Warsaw as he accused Russia of committing “crimes against humanity,” echoing a previous statement from Vice President Kamala Harris.
He also appealed to Russia directly, saying that “millions of Russian citizens” want to live in peace and are not the enemy.
“President Putin chose this war,” Biden said on Tuesday. “He could end the war with a word.”
The 11:30 E.T. speech comes a day after Biden made a surprise visit to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. Amidst the sound of air raid sirens, Biden delivered a sharp rebuke to Putin’s year-long invasion, which has resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 people on both sides of the war, according to estimates from senior U.S. generals.
“Putin’s war of conquest is failing,” Biden said standing next to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “He thought he could outlast us. I don’t think he’s thinking that right now.”
Russia splits from last nuclear arms treaty with United States
Meanwhile, Putin announced on Tuesday his country had suspended participation New START treaty with the United States, according to Reuters.
The treaty capped the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the U.S. and Russia could deploy, along with the land and submarine-based missiles and bombers used to deploy them.
Putin clarified that he was suspending participation but not completely withdrawing from the treaty, but the move raises fears of another World War.
Putin added that his country remains ready to test a nuclear warhead if he deems it necessary, Reuters reported.
“Of course, we will not be the first to do this. But if the United States tests, then we will,” he said. “No one must be under any dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be destroyed.”
Black people, Black nations caught in the middle
Once again, Black people, both in the West and on the African continent, remain in the middle of a potentially catastrophic feud they had nothing to do with starting. Support for Ukraine is widespread in the U.S., yet many Black Americans have called out the disparities in support for European nations compared to crises and conflicts in Africa, such as the civil war in Ethiopia.
While officials on the Tigrayan and Ethiopian side signed peace deals in November, the total death toll has been estimated to be over 500,000, more than twice the estimated death toll in the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia.
“I haven’t heard in the last few months any head of state talking about the Tigray situation anywhere in the developed world. Anywhere. Why?” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the first Black director of the World Health Organization, said in August. “Maybe the reason is the colour of the skin of the people in Tigray.”
As the new Cold War between the West and Russia intensifies, Biden has signaled his administration will continue to support Ukraine even as he faces criticism from some Republicans back home.
“When Putin launched his invasion nearly one year ago, he thought Ukraine was weak and the West was divided. He thought he could outlast us. But he was dead wrong,” Biden said in a White House statement on Monday.
In Oklahoma, the U.S. military has begun training Ukrainian civilians on using the U.S. Patriot missile defense system at Fort Sill Army Base near Lawton. To date, the U.S. has provided over $54 billion in military equipment, humanitarian aid, and other forms of support, according to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Ukraine war: no end in sight
Despite enjoying mostly bipartisan support for its fight to survive, some Republicans in Congress are ready to end support for Ukraine. Earlier this month, 11 House Republicans, most of whom are closely aligned with twice-impeached former President Donald Trump, introduced a non-binding resolution that called for an immediate halt of U.S. aid to Ukraine.
The group included White nationalists Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Lauren Boebert (R-O), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).
“For me, it’s America First all the way and we’re not doing anything about our own southern border,” Rep. Greene previously told Business Insider. “Why are we protecting the border of another country?”
In defending his decision to suspend participation in the nuclear treaty, Putin acccused the U.S. of participating in Ukrainian attacks on Russian military bases.
“Suspension of the treaty is not equal to leaving the treaty, I assume there will be no Russian build-up above the treaty limits,” Andrey Baklitskiy of the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research said on Twitter.
“But there will be much fewer opportunities to verify this (only national technical means), so compliance will be disputed,” he added.
Russia’s 6,255 nuclear weapons represent the largest stockpile in the world, with the United States at a close second with 5,550, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. (ICAN).
“I think it is wise to be prepared for a long war,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Friday.