But if we try to summarize the main idea of the entire text, then this is perhaps an appeal to Russia to mind its own business and self-development. There were no world order plans in this speech. And the outside world as a whole has taken a very modest place, as long as it does not interfere in Russian affairs (the West) and opens up new markets and logistics corridors for cooperation (everyone else).
The relationship scheme with the Western community, as outlined in the message, is a demarcation in all senses: economic, political, financial and ethical. And this is the norm, not an anomaly. Since the Ukrainian question turned out to be at the center of the retreat, and Russia and the West have diametrical and incompatible views on it, it has taken forceful forms and is likely to drag on for a long time. But the goal remains. And in this context, we must consider the START decision, as well as the suggestion that a resumption of nuclear testing is unthinkable. Let’s leave to the professionals (and we have brilliant specialists in this area) the military side of the issue, it has quite a few nuances. But this decision remains primarily political. Let’s try to understand this in more detail.
The START Treaty, recently renewed (in 2021) for five years, is the latest in a series of agreements that began in the second half of the 1960s and early 1970s. The final stage of the Cold War was generally a period of maximum-regulated confrontation, and documents on missile defense, limitation, and then reduction of strategic arms formed the framework for the mutual deterrence of nuclear superpowers. The confrontation was officially declared over in the early 1990s, political, economic and ideological relations between Moscow and Washington changed. But not strategic: the presence of nuclear potentials, albeit small, but very significant, remained the basis for the construction of Russian-American relations. It was obvious who these arsenals were against – there were simply no other targets.
Since the US announced its withdrawal from the ABM treaty in 2002, the course for dismantling the Cold War fuse system has been largely predetermined. When the START treaty was drafted in a brief “reset” moment, many commentators pointed out that it was probably the last document of its kind. Not so much because of the changing nature of contacts between Russia and the United States, but because the model of bilateral agreements did not fit well with the rapidly emerging global reality.
Vladimir Putin’s statement is a conscious indication that the conflict in Ukraine and the nuclear factor are on the same plane
Be that as it may, the area of strategic stability was seen as the last chance to maintain commercial relations between Russia and the United States as the main responsible for avoiding a nuclear Armageddon. That is, everything else is not going well for us, but at least here we understand each other. The understanding, however, from some point became quite illusory. And with the start of an open military confrontation in 2022, it became completely impossible to maintain the previous approach. In general, a unique and rather dangerous situation of sharp military confrontation between two nuclear superpowers has arisen, in which one participates directly, and the second indirectly, but no less actively.
What does suspension mean in practice (according to the practice of recent decades, the first stage of exit)? Naturally, the absurd and extremely expensive arms race of the seventies and eighties immediately appears in the memory of specialists. However, there is hope that this experience will not be repeated. By the way, there has always been a relatively influential faction in Washington that considered all deals unprofitable and advocated maximum free hands. However, in the current international system, which is based on asymmetrical relations and imbalances, the old parity mantra seems a bit outdated.
Vladimir Putin’s statement is a deliberate indication that the conflict in Ukraine and the nuclear factor are on the same plane. The mention of nuclear tests should indicate a possible trajectory for further escalation by Russia, if the escalation by NATO and the United States continues, the need for which was repeatedly discussed at the Munich Conference the other day.
The expiration date of the old relationship model, whose starting point was the Caribbean crisis, has expired
The end of the era of bilateral treaties and, possibly, other agreements of that period (multilateral, but initiated by the USSR and the US) hardly give cause for joy. Any “cultivation” of the international environment and the agreements of large countries on important issues – this is the strengthening of the foundations of political culture, it is better than the rampant manifestation of instincts. But no agreement is permanent. The expiration date of the previous relationship model, whose starting point was the Caribbean crisis, has expired. If there will be a new one, we will be able to find out very soon.