MOSCOW, February 21. /TASS/. Russia suspends its participation in New START, the last major remaining nuclear arms control treaty with the United States, President Vladimir Putin said in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on Tuesday.
According to him, Moscow is not withdrawing from the treaty, but will return to its implementation as soon as it understands how nuclear arsenals of the United Kingdom and France will be taken into account.
Apart from that, Russia will prepare for possible nuclear tests, but won’t be the first one to conduct them.
In his address, which lasted one hour and 45 minutes, the president brought up such issues as the special military operation, criticized the Western states’ policy and announced a number of new social and economic measures, including the creation of a special fund for supporting veterans of combat actions and an education reform.
Russia suspends participation in New START treaty
In the wake of NATO’s recent statements, Russia is forced to suspend its participation in the nuke pact. "I repeat, [Russia] is not withdrawing from the treaty, no, but merely suspending its participation," the president said.
Russia will return to the treaty as soon as it understands how the arsenals of not only the United States but also other nuclear powers of NATO - the United Kingdom and France, will be taken into account.
The Russian Defense Ministry and state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom should prepare for nuclear tests if needed, but Moscow won’t the first one to conduct them.
Special operation in Ukraine
Russia launched its special military operation in order to protect people on its historic lands and eliminate a threat coming from Ukraine. Moscow made every effort for peaceful settlement, but "a completely different scenario" was plotted behind its back and the Western states involved in the talks play "with loaded dice."
The responsibility for current events lies with the West, which is trying to pull away from Russia "the historic territories, which are called Ukraine today." "It was them [the West] who unleashed the war. And we were and are using force to stop it," the president said.
The Western elites are seeking to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia and "are planning to turn a local conflict into a phase of global confrontation" and Moscow "will react accordingly." The West cannot but realize that "it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield," the Russian leader said.
Putin warned that weapons supplies to Kiev will trigger consequences. "The longer the range of the Western systems being brought to Ukraine, the farther away from our borders we will be forced to push the threat," Putin emphasized.
Support for special operation’s participants
Russia needs to set up a special state fund for providing assistance to veterans and families of those killed in the special operation, the president said.
"Each family of the deceased, each veteran should be assigned a personal social worker," he said, noting that the fund’s structures should be deployed in all regions of the country by the end of the year.
The West is fighting Russia "on the economic front" to make Russian citizens suffer, "but it hasn’t succeeded anywhere and won’t manage to do this," Putin said. On the contrary, "the initiators of sanctions are punishing themselves."
The Russian authorities won’t ruin the economy for the sake of developing the defense sector, he pointed out. "We have everything to ensure security and create conditions for the country’s steady development."
The Russian economy and management system proved to be more stable than projected in the West, Putin said.
He explained that the economic situation was stabilized due to the collaboration of the government, parliament, the Bank of Russia, Russian regions, the business community, and corporate teams.
On Russia’s traitors
The absolute majority of Russians have supported the steps on protecting Donbass, Putin stated. Citizens who have taken the path of betrayal will be held responsible according to the law, but Russia will not engage in a 'witch hunt.'
"Let’s not settle scores with those who stepped aside, who backed away from their homeland. Let this remain on their conscience, let them live with it," Putin said.
Russia will return to a traditional four-to six-year higher education system, Putin announced. If profession requires additional training, students will be able to continue education and get a master’s degree and take a post-graduate course.
The elections scheduled for 2023 and 2024, including the presidential election, will be held in strict compliance with the law and with observance of all democratic procedures, Putin stated.
"Both the local and regional elections in this year’s September and the presidential election in 2024 will be held in strict compliance with the law and according to all democratic constitutional procedures," the head of state said, recalling that "Russians are the basis of the country’s sovereignty, the source of power."