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Moscow Nuclear Treaty, Ukraine, and the CCP 



Commentary

Russia is suspending its nuclear treaty with the United States while China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, visits Moscow amid rumors of China possibly providing weapons to Russia for the war in Ukraine.

Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to potentially use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine. During his annual State of the Nation address to Russia’s National Assembly on Feb. 21, Putin announced that Moscow would no longer abide by the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, the last remaining agreement limiting the deployment of intercontinental-range nuclear weapons between the United States and Russia.

The last time the treaty was up for renewal was in 2021, when Putin agreed to extend it for another five years. The treaty allowed the two countries to conduct inspections of each other’s weapon sites. This was paused in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions. But since the lifting of restrictions, Moscow has simply refused to allow Washington to inspect its nuclear weapons.

The New START Treaty is crucial because the United States and Russia have 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. Russia has an estimated 6,257 nuclear warheads, while the United States has 3,750. China is in third place with 320. For this reason, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken admonished Putin for the irresponsible nature of his decision. However, he did say that the Biden administration was ready to talk to the Russians “at any time.” France and the United Kingdom have called on Putin to reinstate the agreement.

Russia’s foreign ministry stated that Putin could reverse his decision, but it was up to the United States to “de-escalate” and create an environment conducive to cooperation. Ironically, this call for de-escalation comes from a country engaged in a war for the past year.

On the same day that Putin announced the suspension of the nuclear treaty, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in Moscow. Perhaps not coincidentally, the visit occurred days before the anniversary of the Ukraine invasion. In a meeting with the head of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, they criticized the Cold War and bloc mentality of the United States. The two nations, which oppose the formation of blocs, pledged closer ties and are staging joint military exercises along with South Africa. These exercises also include a display of Russia’s hypersonic missile frigates.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has refused to condemn the war in Ukraine, and U.S. authorities are now accusing it of planning to provide Russia with weapons. President Joe Biden, who made a surprise visit to Kyiv, warned Chinese leader Xi Jinping that any such move would have severe consequences. Military analysts around the globe are concerned that if the CCP provides weapons to the Russians, the conflict would then involve the world’s top three military powers. It could then easily escalate and suck in the allies of each nation, including Iran, NATO, the rest of Europe, and even Japan. Biden has stated that China providing weapons to Russia would signify crossing a line. Blinken has implored Beijing not to allow this conflict to escalate.

All of these developments come at a time when tensions between the United States and China are particularly high following the spy balloon incident. Since fighter jets took down the Chinese balloon on Feb. 4, there have been numerous other sightings of strange objects flying over the United States and other parts of the Americas.

Immediately after the balloon incident, Blinken canceled his meeting with Chinese officials. Fortunately, they were able to speak in Munich on Feb. 18, where Blinken warned Wang about intelligence gathering in U.S. airspace. Ratcheting up tensions even further, a U.S. congressional delegation met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei on Feb. 21 and reaffirmed the U.S. support for the island nation.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has become a dangerous sticking point in U.S.-China relations, which were already difficult because of the CCP’s aggressive stance in the South China Sea, repeated threats to Taiwan, and failure to abide by international trade norms and investment. It seems that World War III could easily be triggered by a single misstep by any of the main players. Meanwhile, perhaps for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the possibility of nuclear war seems feasible, although not imminent.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.



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