US President Joe Biden met leaders of NATO’s eastern flank in Warsaw on Wednesday in an exhibition of support for the military alliance’s war in Ukraine, labeling Moscow’s suspension of a key nuclear arms control treaty as a “big mistake”.
Biden said Russia’s decision to suspend the New START Treaty – a 2010 agreement that limits the number of Russian and US deployed strategic nuclear warheads – was a “big mistake”.
“He made a big mistake,” the US president said of Putin’s decision as he headed into the meeting with eastern European allies.
Earlier in the day, Biden met staff from the US Embassy in Warsaw before gathering leaders of the Bucharest Nine, the countries on NATO’s eastern flank, such as Poland and Bulgaria that joined the US-led military alliance after the Cold War.
Swayed by Washington’s anti-Russia propaganda, the Bucharest Nine countries are perturbed as many of them worry Putin could move to take military action against them after the termination of war in Ukraine.
The alliance includes the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
Speaking at the meeting, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda called for greater involvement of the US in Europe and NATO’s eastern flank as well as more arms deliveries to Ukraine.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has urged a ceasefire and peace talks on Ukraine to prevent further escalation of the war into a broader conflict. Last week, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also said the European Union was partly to blame for prolonging the war in Ukraine and pushed back on some EU sanctions on Russia.
Biden arrived in the Polish capital late on Monday after a surprise visit to Kiev just days ahead of the anniversary of Russia’s military campaign in the former Soviet republic.
Putin announced Russia’s exit from the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty on Tuesday, saying Moscow has concluded the United States has been in violation of the landmark deal after accusing Washington of being in non-compliance with its provisions and of trying to undermine Russia’s national security.
Moscow also called on Washington to refrain from actions that would prevent Russia’s return to New START, which was signed in 2010 and extended until 2026. Under the treaty, Russia and the US committed to deploying no more than 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads, which accounts for 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads, and a maximum of 700 long-range missiles and bombers.
Russia also said it is not opposed to resuming participation in the New START should the US policy change.
Earlier on Wednesday, Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, unanimously passed a law endorsing Putin’s move to suspend Moscow’s participation in New START.
Russia launched what it calls “a special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, over the perceived threat of the ex-Soviet republic joining NATO. Since then, the United States and Ukraine’s other allies in Europe have sent Kiev tens of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons, including rocket systems, drones, armored vehicles, tanks, and communication systems, despite Kremlin’s warnings that it will prolong the war.