Russian deputies back Putin over nuclear arms treaty

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Russian lawmakers on Wednesday unanimously approved the suspension of Moscow's participation in the New START arms treaty, which President Vladimir Putin announced a day earlier.

New START, the last nuclear arms control pact between Russia and the US, commits them to limiting their stockpile of nuclear warheads.

The backing by both chambers of Russia's parliament, reported by state news agencies, came as no surprise after Putin's announcement.

In his nearly two-hour speech Tuesday, the Russian leader accused the United States of “developing new types of nuclear weapons”.

Later the same day, the foreign ministry said it would still comply with the treaty until it expired in early 2026.

Russia's decision to suspend the treaty was “reversible” -- but Washington “must show political will”, it added.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a return to the treaty would “depend on the West's position”.

“NATO maintains its openly hostile position towards our country, not only in words, but also in actions...,” he said.

“Once there is a willingness to take into account our concerns, then the situation will change.”

Putin's announcement was met with widespread international condemnation Tuesday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia's decision was “deeply unfortunate and irresponsible” but that Washington was still willing to talk about the issue.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the move meant that “the whole arms control architecture has been dismantled”.

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