Continuing his diplomatic stand-off with Vladimir PutinUS President Joe Biden said Russia is making a ”big mistake” by suspending a key nuclear arms treaty.
Biden made a brief comment to reporters as he entered the presidential palace in Warsaw, where he is meeting with leaders from nations on the eastern edge of the NATO alliance. It is the latest in a series of verbal jockeying between Russia and the US as Biden wraps up a three-day visit to the region.
Putin announced Tuesday he is suspending Moscow’s participation in New START, a strategic nuclear arms reduction treaty, the last remaining nuclear arms reduction deal between the US and Russia. It limits each side to 1,550 long-range nuclear warheads.
Biden is ending his three-day trip to Ukraine and Poland Wednesday with a final emphasis on the strength of the NATO alliance, which has stood up to Putin.
“You’re the front lines of our collective defense,” Biden told the leaders of Poland, Romania, Slovakia and several other eastern flank nations. “And you know better than anyone what’s at stake in this conflict. Not just for Ukraine, but for the freedom of democracies throughout Europe and around the world.”
What is the nuclear arms treaty?
The New START treaty was signed in 2010 and extended for five years in 2021. It limits the number of long-range nuclear warheads Russia and the US can have, including those that can reach the US in about 30 minutes.
When it was extended in 2021, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the treaty guaranteed a “necessary level of predictability and transparency” for the world’s two largest nuclear powers while “strictly maintaining a balance of interests.”
- Trip overview: After making a surprise visit to war-torn Ukraine Monday, Biden traveled to Poland, where he praised the strength of Ukraine and the international coalition backing up the resistance.
- Bucharest NineBiden met Wednesday with leaders of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. The countries are known as the Bucharest Nine, a group of eastern NATO allies formed in 2015 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
- The agenda: The nations have advocated for an increased NATO presence and deterrence measures in the region. Slovakian President Zuzana Caputová said the nations need to ensure there are “no gray zones in our defense.”
- NATO anniversary: Biden announced Tuesday the US will host a NATO summit next year to mark the 75th anniversary of what he called the “strongest defensive alliance in the history of the world.”
Why it matters
Russia has tried to keep NATO from its borders. In the lead-up to its invasion of Ukraine, Putin demanded that Ukraine never be allowed to join the alliance. He also wanted to keep NATO missiles from being in striking distance and stop the alliance from deploying forces in former Soviet bloc countries that joined NATO after 1997.
Instead, the alliance has grown stronger. Finland and Sweden are in the process of joining. NATO has bolstered its troop presence in Europe. And NATO countries have provided military and other support to Ukraine.
“NATO will not be divided, and we will not tire,” Biden said during his speech at Warsaw’s Royal Castle Tuesday.
ATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said N
But the administration and its allies have also tried to keep the fight against Russia from spilling into a NATO country to avoid triggering the mutual defense pact.
While praising allies for standing together, Biden is emphasizing that the fight is far from over. There will be “hard and very bitter days, victories and tragedies,” he said Tuesday.
Biden also encouraged other nations to look beyond the immediate challenge of the war in Ukraine and also work together in “lifting up the lives of people everywhere.”
“The democracies of the world have to deliver it for our people,” he said.
How many times has Article 5 been invoked?
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in 1949 as a system of collective defense against the Soviet Union.
Its basic principle of mutual defense is the Article 5 provision that requires member states to come to the aid of their allies in the event of an attack.
The article has been invoked only once, when the US called on the alliance after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
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