Putin Aims Dividing Public Opinion with Nuclear Treaty Pullout, Experts Say

Photo credit: TASS

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to suspend participation in the last remaining nuclear arms treaty with the U.S. represents a blatant attempt to divide opinion over the war on Ukraine by raising the specter of nuclear armageddon, experts and policymakers warned.

Putin announced he would be suspending Moscow’s participation in the New Start treaty during a bitter speech in which he made clear he would not change his strategy in the war in Ukraine.

The belligerent 100-minute speech included charges against the U.S. and allied nations for trying to inflict “strategic defeat” on Russia. 

The speech prompted instant reaction across the political spectrum in Washington.

Experts say Putin misplaying to the rifts in the U.S. The strategy is to increase political discord in an attempt to embolden calls for an end to US support for Ukraine, they said. 

“It’s playing to all those people who want Ukraine to surrender and capitulate to avoid a massive nuclear exchange and world war three, a kind of nuclear armageddon,” said Fiona Hill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who was a Russian specialist at the White House National Security Council from 2017 to 2019. 

Following Putin’s speech, prominent rightwing Republicans heavily criticized President Joe Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv, accusing him of devoting more care to Ukraine than to his own people.

Given how politicized the U.S. and its lawmakers have become, “there will be elements in the Republican party who will play this up as a way of casting aspersions on Biden’s foreign policy,” said Thomas Graham, Russia director within George W Bush’s National Security Council, and a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

The practical implications of Putin’s threatened suspension are likely to be debated in Washington over the coming weeks.

“Putin is looking for any cracks. We need to be united as Americans, and resist the temptation to play silly politics over this,” said Hill. 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.