SCOTT RITTER: Arms Control or Ukraine?

As Russia suspends New START, the sooner the Ukraine war ends, the sooner the U.S. and Russia can work to preserve arms control to avert the ultimate disaster.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Feb. 21 address to Federal Assembly. (Kremlin)

By Scott Ritter
Special to Consortium News

Russia experts and national security specialists will be poring over the text of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s address on Tuesday for some time to come, trying to divine hidden meaning.

The fact is, however, Putin’s speech was something rarely heard in Western political circles —unvarnished statements of fact, set forth in a straightforward, surprisingly easy-to-understand manner.

In a world where Western politicians regularly dissemble to shape perception, even if the underlying “facts” are not true (one need only refer to President Joe Biden’s infamous phone call with former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in July 2021, for an example), Putin’s speech was a breath of fresh air — no hidden agendas, no false pretense — no lies.

And on the issue of arms control, the truth hurts.

“I have to say today,” Putin announced near the end of his address, “that Russia is suspending its participation in New START. I repeat, not withdrawing from the treaty, no, but merely suspending its participation.”

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), signed in 2010 as the outcome of negotiations between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, ostensibly caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that each country can deploy at 1,550; limits the number of deployed land-and submarine-based missiles and bombers used to deliver these warheads to 700; and caps at 800 the deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments.

In February 2021, Biden and Putin agreed to extend the treaty for an additional five years. New START will expire in 2026.

Background to the Decision

The backstory to New START is important, especially in the context of Putin’s declaration regarding Russia’s suspension. The core of that backstory is missile defense.

In December 2001, then-President George W. Bush announced that the United States was withdrawing from the landmark 1972 anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty, which banned (with limited exception) the development and deployment of missile defense systems designed to shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

The ABM treaty set in stone the Cold War concept of mutually assured destruction, or MAD, the idea that no side possessing nuclear weapons would use them against another nuclear power for the simple reason that to do so would bring about their own demise through guaranteed nuclear retaliation.

“The backstory to New START is important, especially in the context of Putin’s declaration regarding Russia’s suspension. The core of that backstory is missile defense.”

The insanity of MAD helped pave the way for all arms control agreements that followed, from the Strategic Arms Reductions Talks (SALT), to the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty and on to the various iterations of Strategic Arms Reduction treaties (START).

Putin condemned the U.S. decision to withdraw from the ABM treaty as “a mistake.” At the time, U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals were subject to the limitations imposed by the 1991 START treaty. Efforts to further reduce U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons were undertaken as part of the START II treaty.

But post-Cold War politics, combined with the U.S. decision to abandon the ABM treaty, left the treaty signed but unratified, effectively killing it.

Similar issues helped conspire to kill the START III treaty in the negotiation stage. The narrowly focused Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, or SORT, which was signed in 2002, committed both the U.S. and Russia to additional reductions beyond those mandated by START I, but contained no verification or compliance mechanisms.

The START I treaty expired in 2009, and SORT in 2012. New START was intended to replace both agreements.

The Medvedev Presidency

One of the sticking points has been the issue of missile defense. Under President Putin, Russia refused to enter any new substantive arms control treaty (SORT was more informal agreement than treaty in structure and substance) that did not meaningfully address missile defense.

But in May 2008, Dmitry Medvedev took over as Russian president. The Russian constitution prohibited a president from serving more than two consecutive terms in office, and so, with Putin’s support, Medvedev ran for Russia’s highest office, and won. Putin was subsequently appointed prime minister.

Dmitry Medvedev’s presidential election campaign took advantage of Vladimir Putin’s endorsement and high popularity. (Leonid Dzhepko, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

While the Bush administration sought to negotiate a follow-on treaty to the soon-to-be expired START I, Medvedev proved to be every bit as reluctant to entering any agreement with the U.S. that did not include limitations on missile defense, something President Bush would not accept.

In the end, the problem of negotiating a new treaty would be left to the administration of Barack Obama, who assumed office in January 2009.

In their first meeting, in London in late March 2009, the two leaders issued a statement in which they agreed “to pursue new and verifiable reductions in our strategic offensive arsenals in a step-by-step process, beginning by replacing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with a new, legally-binding treaty.”

As for missile defense, Obama and Medvedev agreed to treat it as a separate issue. “While acknowledging that differences remain over the purposes of deployment of missile defense assets in Europe,” the statement read, “we discussed new possibilities for mutual international cooperation in the field of missile defense, taking into account joint assessments of missile challenges and threats, aimed at enhancing the security of our countries, and that of our allies and partners.”

Let there be no doubt — the New START treaty that was negotiated between Russia and the United States, while singularly focused on reducing strategic offensive nuclear arsenals, contained a clear understanding that this treaty would be followed by a good-faith effort by the U.S. to address Russia’s longstanding concerns over missile defense.

 U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev after signing the New START treaty in Prague, April 2010. (, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

This was reflected in the exchange of non-binding unilateral statements attached to the New START treaty. The “Statement of the Russian Federation Concerning Missile Defense” set out the position that New START “may be effective and viable only in conditions where there is no qualitative or quantitative build-up in [U.S. missile defense system capabilities].”

Moreover, the statement said any build-up in U.S. missile defense capabilities which gave “rise to a threat to [Russia’s strategic nuclear force potential]” would be considered one of the “extraordinary events” mentioned in Article XIV of the treaty and could prompt Russia to exercise its right of withdrawal.

For its part, the United States issued its own statement declaring that U.S. missile defenses “are not intended to affect the strategic balance with Russia” while declaring that it intended “to continue improving and deploying its missile defense systems in order to defend itself against limited attack.”

“… the statement said any build-up in U.S. missile defense capabilities which gave ‘rise to a threat’ … could prompt Russia to exercise its right of withdrawal.”

The agreements reached between Obama and Medvedev, however, was not necessarily acceptable to Putin. According to Rose Gottemoeller, the U.S. negotiator for New START, Putin, as prime minister, nearly scuttled the talks when, in December 2009, he once again raised the issue of missile defense.

“They [the Russians] were going to have a critical National Security Council meeting,” Gottemoeller later recounted in an October 2021 talk with the Carnegie Council, “and the story I have heard told is that Putin, for the first time showing some interest in these negotiations, walks into the National Security Council meeting and simply draws lines through all the issues on this decision sheet and said, ‘No, no, no, no, no.’”

Gottemoeller went on to describe how Putin then travelled to Vladivostok and delivered a speech where he denounced the treaty as “totally inadequate,” criticizing both the U.S. and Russian negotiating teams as being “only focused on limiting strategic offensive forces,” noting that “they are not limiting missile defense. This treaty is a waste of time,” Gottemoeller quoted Putin. “We should get out of the negotiations.”

According to Gottemoeller, Medvedev stood up to Putin, telling his prime minister, “No, we are going to continue these negotiations and get them done.”

Broken Promise 

Anatoly Antonov was the Russian negotiator for New START. He dutifully complied with his instructions from the Kremlin to craft a treaty focused on the reduction of strategic offensive weapons, working under the assumption that the U.S. would be as good as its word when it came to engaging in meaningful negotiations on missile defense.

And yet, less than a year after New START entered into force, Antonov found that the U.S. had no intention on following through on its promises.

U.S.-Russian negotiators Rose Gottemoeller and Anatoly Antonov at a press event on April 9, 2010, during New START negotiations. (U.S. Mission Geneva, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

In an interview with Kommersant newspaper, Antonov said that talks with NATO on a planned Western European missile-defense system had reached “a dead end,” adding that NATO proposals were “vague” and that the promised participation of Russia in the proposed system “is not even up for discussion.”

Antonov indicated that the lack of good faith shown by the U.S. regarding missile defense could lead to Russia withdrawing from the New START treaty altogether.

While the U.S. did offer to let Russia observe specific aspects of a specific test of a U.S. missile interceptor, the offer never amounted to anything, with the U.S. downplaying the abilities of the SM-3 missile when it came to intercepting Russian missiles, noting that the missile lacked the range to be effective against Russian missiles.

The late Ellen Tauscher, who at the time was the U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, had offered Antonov written assurances that the Mk. 41 Aegis Ashore system, which would employ the SM-3 missile interceptor, was not directed against Russia.

U.S. Under Secretary Ellen Tauscher, right, in 2009. (U.S. Mission Geneva, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

However, Tauscher said, “We cannot provide legally binding commitments, nor can we agree to limitations on missile defense, which must necessarily keep pace with the evolution of the threat.”

Tauscher’s words were prophetic. In 2015, the U.S. began testing the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor against ICBM targets. The SM-3 did, in fact, have the range to shoot down Russian intermediate- and intercontinental-range missiles.

And now those missiles were to be stationed on bases constructed in Poland and Romania, two former Warsaw Pact nations that were closer to the border with Russia than NATO forces had ever been.

The Americans had negotiated in bad faith. Putin, it turned out, had been right to question a strategic arms control treaty that did not consider Russia’s concerns over missile defense.

And yet this did not weaken Putin’s commitment to fulfilling New START. According to Gottemoeller,

“Putin, since this treaty has been signed, has taken a very positive stance about it. Since the treaty has entered into force, he has called it repeatedly publicly the ‘gold standard’ of nuclear treaties and has supported it…I know that he has been committed to the treaty and really committed to the efforts underway now in this strategic stability dialogue to get some new negotiations going.”

But Putin’s assiduous adherence to New START did not mean that the Russian leader had stopped worrying about the threat posed by U.S. missile defense. On March 1, 2018, Putin delivered a major address to the Russian Federal Assembly — the same forum he spoke to on Tuesday. His tone was defiant:

“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, and introduced unlawful sanctions aimed at containing our country’s development — everything that you wanted to impede with your policies has already happened. You have failed to contain Russia.”

Putin then unveiled several new Russian strategic weapons, including the Sarmat heavy ICBM and the Avangard hypersonic vehicle, which he said were developed in direct response to the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM treaty.

Putin said Russia had warned the U.S. that it would take such measures back in 2004. “No one listened to us then,” Putin declared. “So listen to us now.”

One of the people listening was Rose Gottemoeller. “[P]eople are worried about … the new so-called exotic weapons systems that President Putin rolled out in March of 2018,” the former arms control negotiator, by then retired, said in 2021. “[T]wo of them are already under the limits New START, the so-called Sarmat heavy [ICBM] and also the Avangard, which is their first strategic-range hypersonic glide vehicle that they are getting ready to deploy. They have already said that they will bring it under the New START Treaty.”

Gottemoeller noted that any future arms control agreement would be seeking constraints on these systems.

Treaty Extension in 2021

The New START Treaty was extended for a five-year term in February 2021, even though the Russians believed that the “conversion or elimination” procedures used by the U.S. to determine whether B-52H bombers and Ohio-class submarines converted from nuclear- to non-nuclear use, or eliminated altogether, were insufficient.

The Russians hoped that these issues could be worked out using the treaty-mandated Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC) process, which meets twice a year to resolve issues such as these.

March 28, 2011: U.S.-Russian delegations at the Bilateral Consultative Commission on the New START Treaty. (U.S. State Department, Wikimedia Commons)

One of the problems facing both the U.S. and Russian inspectors and negotiators, however, was the Covid-19 pandemic. In early 2020, both sides agreed to suspend on-site inspections and BCC meetings due to the pandemic. By mid-2021, U.S. and Russian negotiators began discussing the creation of joint Covid protocols that could get both inspections and BCC consultations up and running.

But then came Ukraine.

On March 9, 2022, the U.S., U.K. and European Union all passed sanctions which banned Russian aircraft from overflying their respective territories and placed visa restrictions on Russians transiting EU or the U.K. en route to the United States. According to the Russians, these restrictions effectively prohibit the dispatch of weapons-inspection teams to the U.S. using New START short-notice inspection protocols, which have strict treaty-mandated timelines attached to their implementation.  

“By mid-2021, U.S. and Russian negotiators began discussing the creation of joint Covid protocols that could get both inspections and BCC consultations up and running. But then came Ukraine.”

In June 2022, the U.S. unilaterally declared that the moratorium on inspections imposed because of the Covid-19 pandemic was no longer in effect. On Aug. 8, 2022, the U.S. attempted to dispatch a short-notice inspection team to Russia to carry out treaty-mandated inspection tasks.

Russia denied entry to the team, and accused the U.S. of trying to gain a unilateral advantage by conducting on-site inspections while Russia could not. Citing the restrictions imposed by sanctions, the Russia Foreign Ministry said “there are no similar obstacles to the arrival of American inspectors in Russia.”

To resolve the impasse over inspections as well as other outstanding treaty-implementation issues, Russian and U.S. diplomats began consultations on convening a meeting of the BCC, and eventually were able to settle on a Nov. 29, 2022, date in Cairo, Egypt. Four days before the BCC was supposed to begin, however, Russia announced that the meeting was off.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, in statements made to Kommersant, said that the war in Ukraine was at the heart of the decision. “There is, of course, the effect of what is happening in Ukraine and around it,” Ryabkov said. “I will not deny it. Arms control and dialogue in this area cannot be immune to what is around it.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, center, at an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting, August 2020. (Dean Calma/IAEA, Flickr)

Arms Control Could Be Dead

The State Department issued an official report to Congress on Russian compliance with New Start in early 2023 which accused Russia of violating the New START treaty by refusing U.S. inspectors access to sites inside Russia.

Russia, a State Department spokesperson stated, was “not complying with its obligation under the New START Treaty to facilitate inspection activities on its territory,” noting that “Russia’s refusal to facilitate inspection activities prevents the United States from exercising important rights under the treaty and threatens the viability of U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control.”

The insensitivity of the U.S. side to the impact of its actions targeting Russia — sometimes literally — as part of the overall U.S. response to Putin’s initiation of the Special Military Operation in February 2022 is, however, telling.

In his address on Tuesday, Putin highlighted the role played by the U.S. and NATO in facilitating the Ukrainian use of Soviet-era drones to carry out an attack on a base near Engels, Russia, that housed Russia’s strategic aviation assets, including nuclear-capable bombers. He also pointed out that he had just signed orders for the Sarmat and Avangard systems to become operational and, as such, inspectable under the terms of New START.

“The United States and NATO are directly saying that their goal is to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia,” Putin said. “Are they going to inspect our defense facilities, including the newest ones, as if nothing had happened? Do they really think we’re easily going to let them in there just like that?”

Rose Gottemoeller observed that the U.S. is “not going to change our policy on Ukraine because he’s [Putin] in a hissy fit over the New START treaty. That’s just not going to happen.”

But Putin’s stance is far more principled than a simple “hissy fit.” Born of the original sin perpetrated by the U.S. in withdrawing from the ABM treaty, Putin’s angst is directly tied to the deceit displayed by U.S. officials — including Gottemoeller — when it came to assurances given Dmitry Medvedev about missile defense during the New START negotiations.

This deceit led to Russia deploying new categories of strategic nuclear weapons — the Sarmat and Avangard — to defeat U.S. missile defense systems, including those that had been forward deployed into Europe.

And now, with the war in Ukraine being linked to a U.S. strategy of achieving the strategic defeat of Russia, the U.S. is seeking to use New START to gain access to these very systems, all the while denying Russia its reciprocal rights of inspection under the treaty. As Putin aptly noted, such an arrangement “really sounds absurd.”

The inability and/or unwillingness of either party to compromise on New START means that the treaty will remain in limbo for the indefinite future which, given that the treaty expires in February 2026, means there is a distinct possibility arms control between the U.S. and Russia is dead.

K-114 Tula nuclear submarine at a pier of the Russian Northern Fleet’s naval base during drills for nuclear submarine crews in the Murmansk Region of Russia. (RIA Novosti archive/ Mikhail Fomichev / CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Risk of New Arms Race

While the U.S. and Russia had previously committed to a follow-on treaty to replace New START, the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine poses a nearly insurmountable obstacle for anyone seeking to have such a treaty document ready for signature and ratification by the time New START expires.

There is a good chance the U.S. and Russia, in two years’ time, will find themselves without any verifiable mechanism to assuage the fears and uncertainty about the two parties’ respective nuclear arsenals, leading to the real possibility — if not probability — that they will both embark on an unconstrained arms race fueled by ignorance-based angst that could very well result in the kind of misunderstandings, mistakes, or miscalculations that could trigger a nuclear war and, in doing so, end all humanity.

“The truth is behind us,” Putin said, closing out his address to the Russian Federal Assembly.

So, too, may be humanity’s last chance to prevent nuclear calamity, if a way can’t somehow be found to get arms control back on the agenda.

Here, Gottemoeller’s assertion that the U.S. would not alter its Ukraine policy to save New START underscores the self-defeating reality of the Biden administration’s efforts to arm Ukraine.

The sooner the war in Ukraine is over, the sooner the U.S. and Russia can get down to the business of preserving arms control as a viable part of the relationship between the two nations.

By seeking to extend the Ukraine conflict, however, the U.S. is in effect engaging in an act of self-immolation that threatens to engulf the world in a nuclear holocaust.

During the Vietnam War, the noted correspondent Peter Arnett quoted an unnamed U.S. Army officer as saying, “We had to destroy the village to save it.” With regard to the linkage that has been created between Ukraine and arms control, the same sick logic now applies — to save one, the other must be destroyed.

To save Ukraine, arms control must be destroyed.

To save arms control, Ukraine must be destroyed.

One sacrifices a nation, the other a planet.

This is the Hobson’s Choice U.S. policy makers have created, except it is not.

Save the planet. That is the only choice.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. His most recent book is Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, published by Clarity Press.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

31 comments for “SCOTT RITTER: Arms Control or Ukraine?

  1. Forgiven Builder
    February 24, 2023 at 20:38

    “Darwinian Fitness” via “struggle for survival” has finally “come of age.” Humans have “evolved” from sticks-and-Stones to NUCLEAR DRONES – Goodbye to the goose that lays the golden eggs! Oceans evoporate; atmosphere burns; land is nuclear ash! Good riddance to the most destructive kind of biological beings on the Earth. The West has made it as the global hegemon, and now, finds religious faith irrelevant, which, they had exploited only for deceiving other populations into believing and practicing Christianity, while, for the West, religion was nothing but a means to an end, but an instrument of deceit and exploitation geared for plundering the earth for loot and booty. But, there is indeed a Creator! Mortals obtain biological life in their mother’s womb, when Male Sperm “meets” Female Ovum; lives for a while; and then, goes six-feet-under. And that’s why; Either “Know God, know Peace” or “No God, no Peace!” In short, since 1492 when Columbus discovered the Americas, the World has been enduring “Democracy Western-Style” for more than 500 years! First: Invade with the Marines; Subdue the population and kill those who resist; exploit and make barren the land out of all its natural resource; and then, call it “Western Civilization.” Enough is enough! Western bankers covet the whole Planet and American armed forces are their proxy enforcers of the so-called “rules-based” international order – They make the rules and establish the order for dispossessing the world! International law, such a the Geneva Conventions, that had heretofore protected and secured Human Rights, Individual Liberty, and National Sovereignty, has been “thrown out of the window!” Sheer violence for conquest of spoils is the new imperialist paradigm – after razing a country to the ground, the IMF and the World Bank loans it “fiat money” and “money out of thin air” in exchange for real property and substantive natural resources! This has been a PONZI SCHEME that has impoverished most nations which do not subscribe to the SWIFT financial system. Only China and Russia can serve as effective CHECKS-AND-BALANCES to prevent a global catastrophe that either perpetually enslaves Humanity or turns the Planet into NUCLEAR DUST! ***

  2. AG
    February 24, 2023 at 11:48

    Dear Mr. Ritter,

    thank you for pointing out a few of those diplomatic “details” that are so conveniently being ignored elsewhere.

    One question:

    Is there any information on “500 hidden US missiles” as Russian Deputy FM Ryabkov claims according to this admittedly unscientific Russian article (I have my doubts but I don´t want to discard the info until falsified / verified via other sources)


    translated quote:

    “(…)That it was not Russia, but the United States that hid about 500 warheads of various capacities last year, simply renaming them, arbitrarily changing their categorization and firmly refusing to let Russian inspectors in to check their real parameters. At the same time, Washington and its vassals had the audacity to loudly demand from Russia full and unhindered access to all arsenals and storage bases, including classified and secret ones.(…)”

  3. CaseyG
    February 23, 2023 at 17:02

    The trio—Biden. Blinken and Nuland
    They imagine that they have a grand plan.
    Not truly trustworthy—
    They tend to play dirty—-
    As sadly —– only America can!

  4. Frank Munley
    February 23, 2023 at 13:55

    Scott Ritter did readers a tremendous service by reviewing the negative role of Bush’s abrogation of the ABM Treaty and Obama’s missile defense deployments in negotiations for New START and its implementation.
    How despicable for the US to make propaganda out of the inspection issue when its sanctions against Russia obliterated any symmetry between the parties.

  5. GioCon
    February 23, 2023 at 11:48

    Before any talk of arms control can be even remotely practical, we need see who the major obstacles to peace are inside our government. Driving this obsessive hate campaign against Russia are the neocons in Biden’s State department — Nuland, Sullivan and Blinken — together with Biden, and supported by the Democrats and Republican RINOs. The only opposition inside government are the Republican populists, but some of them are eager to move on to obsess over China. The point is, if Americans continue making bad voting decisions, they will have to reap the consequences of those bad decisions. Right now, US domestic politics is obsessing over race and gender issues — both driven by ideologies, rather than scientific fact or even common sense. Americans fail to see the manipulative hand of the Democrats, desperate to shore up what is left of their sinking voter base, driving these divisive issues. The Ukraine war and even arms control will also fall into the cavern of divisive politics, as the war hawks smear anyone who calls for peace as “Putin’s puppet.” US war hawks can always rely on rabid anti-Russia xenophobia to con their ignorant public. So. along with all the other cards Democrats and Rinos play — the race card, gender card, transphobia card, denial card — we can add the “Putin’s puppet” card. Today’s anti-Russia racism is a continuation of Hitler’s rabid anti-Slavic racism by just another name. Unfortunately, the Allies didn’t defeat the Nazis — they became the Nazis.

    • Rafael
      February 23, 2023 at 20:02

      “the Allies didn’t defeat the Nazis — they became the Nazis.” I assume you meant to exclude the USSR from “the Allies”

  6. Si Moon Bayh
    February 23, 2023 at 10:48

    Mr. Putin appears to actually talk to the Russian people ….tells them what is going on, why it is happening, and what will happen in the future.

    I can’t remember the last American President who actually did that. Clinton could fake it, but it was all fake and no reality.

    Jimmy Carter was the last American President to speak honestly to the American people. And the American people vilified him for doing so. Between the hatred of him for delivering the “American Malaise” speech, and the Bush deals with the Ayatollah about the hostages, they made Carter into a one-term President. Since then, its been all performances and general BS, but no President has really talked to the American people.

    Can anyone imagine Biden delivering fireside chats to the American people to help get through a crisis? Thought not.

    This is not what Democracy looks like.

  7. Si Moon Bayh
    February 23, 2023 at 10:39

    America has a very strange idea of what ‘peace’ is.

    There was an old saying when I was young …”sticks and stones may break my bones”, etc, etc, etc.

    The American idea of peace says that they are only ‘fighting’ when they grasp the stick with two-hands to strike overhand blows. The Americans claim they can throw all of the stones that they want to throw, and even strike with a stick over and over again, just as long as they keep to their ‘rule’ that says they are only fighting when they grasp the stick with both hands to strike a hard blow.

    Strangely enough, the people being hit by all of the stones thrown by Americans, and all of the one-hand blows by Americans, don’t quite accept that the Americans are ‘at peace’.

    Negotiating on one matter with one set of treaties for one set of weapons, while being constantly struck by every other stick and stone that the Americans can grasp for makes zero sense … at least to anyone who does not have the warped American notion of ‘peace’.

  8. Anon
    February 23, 2023 at 09:38

    Mutually Assured Destruction…
    (Initials likely English language coincidental…

  9. Tony
    February 23, 2023 at 09:02

    NATO General Secretary Stoltenberg has slammed Russia’s decision.

    By contrast, he supported the Trump administration’s decision to leave the INF treaty citing alleged Russian violations.

    It was never explained, however, that Russia was free to deploy whatever missile it wanted at sea as the INF treaty only covered land-based missiles. If Russian non-compliance had really been the issue, then the US could simply have suspended its own compliance until the matter was resolved.

    Trump was advised to leave the treaty by John Bolton who probably never supported it in the first place. Indeed, he wanted to exit the treaty when he served in the George W. Bush administration, as he makes clear in his book, “The Room Where it Happened.” This was long before allegations of Russian cheating first arose.

    The withdrawal from future treaties clearly needs to be made harder and the most obvious way to do that would be to extend the withdrawal period to, perhaps, two years. Six months is a ridiculously short time for a decision of such importance.

    An important priority right now is to achieve a ceasefire in the war in the Ukraine.

  10. Peter Loeb
    February 23, 2023 at 08:40


    Trying to see the additional information I got a window which said:

    “Connection denied by Geolocation Setting.

    Reason: Blocked country: Russia

    The connection was denied because this country is blocked in the Geolocation settings.”

    The remarks by Russia were not made available by the UN. Only US rebuttals and secondary reports such as
    the conservative “Union Leader” (New Hampshire) and Fox News.

    With sarcasm: It’s wonderful to live in a “free” country with so-called “freedom of expression”.

  11. D.H.Fabian
    February 22, 2023 at 21:35

    It’s wild that any American can howl about Putin “suspending” New START when this conflict is the direct result of the West’s ongoing violations of the 1991 NATO Treaty. NATO is presenting a direct and immediate threat to Russia (and China).

  12. TRogers
    February 22, 2023 at 20:09

    The US has been hijacked by criminals. The corporate media has been hijacked. The Congress has been largely hijacked. The Presidency has been hijacked. The American people cannot trust them, and the Russian people cannot trust them.

    A good discussion of Putin’s latest speech, culminating in Russia’s rejection of the US as completely untrustworthy, is at The Duran.
    Putin delivers confident Federal Assembly speech, suspends START nuclear treaty

  13. foster
    February 22, 2023 at 19:39

    Pray for peace. Work for peace.That is the only way I can see my way through.

  14. Rob Roy
    February 22, 2023 at 19:05

    Scott, delighted to read what you wrote. I happened to read Putin’s address before I read your commentary and thought exactly the same thing. Putin doesn’t lie. I hear all his addresses, listen to what he says…plus all the Oliver Stone interviews, read what he writes. He is the most honest leader I’ve seen in my lifetime. And I will say every year after an address to the Federation: If any president of the US ever gave an address like that, the citizens would faint en masse.
    P.S. The U.S. is screaming about China giving (or might give) Russia arms to defeat Ukraine (the U.S.). What hypocrites Biden and his followers are, giving that corrupt litte twerp everything he screams for while our people have no healthcare for all and a huge homeless population. Shameful.
    This Ukraine battle was over in April except for U.S. interference. Don’t you know, the U.S. fights for democracy and freedom all over the world. Yeah, right.

  15. Jeff Harrison
    February 22, 2023 at 17:44

    I have no idea what the point behind all this is. The US has announced its intent to strategically defeat Russia. Russia has done no such thing (at least, not since Nikita Khrushchev pounded on the UN lectern with his shoe and shouted we will bury you! in 1956). You don’t negotiate with that kind of adversary; you defeat them. I’m quite sure that Mr Putin understands that.

    • yu ma
      February 22, 2023 at 19:36

      ^^ What you said plus the fact that certain elements in USA believe that they can win an actual nuclear war. It is beyond my understanding how anyone can actually think that such a thing could be won, considering a global destruction such a war would bring.

    • shmutzoid
      February 23, 2023 at 03:11

      Krushchev’s “we will bury you” remark had to do with his prediction that the Soviet Union would “bury” the US economically. But, of course, US imperial managers just had to spin it for maximum political/propaganda effect to maintain a certain fear level among the population. … was the case with much of Cold War “journalism”. It is now acknowledged that the US grossly inflated the Soviet’s military capability throughout that period. ——————- Today, Russia spends around $65billion a year on its military. The US yearly figure is almost $900billion. …………… And yet, we’re s’posed to believe it’s Russia who has designs for reconstituting the Soviet empire, blah-blah-blah. The narrative control is so tight in the US I doubt not many folks even consider just why the US has over 800 military bases around the globe. …….. China, by the way, has only five or six bases outside its borders – you’d likely be accused of spreading Chinese propaganda if you mentioned that in conversation. Such is the dismal state of social/info control.

      I really hope Russia’s looming offensive will bring about a swift and decisive end to this war. … that has Zelensky begging for negotiations. (Minsk ll would be a good place to start, AGAIN!)…………. In the end, more lives would be saved than if this war drags on for months/years, which is a US priority. …….. It’s clear the US war ON Russia via Ukraine is a fight to the finish. Russia is in a fight for its very existence. …….it must use overwhelming force NOW to end things before the US decides to use nukes.

      I think, finally, Putin has learned he is not to trust one word coming from any US official. He shoulda’ realized this years ago and brought things to a head earlier.

    • IJ Scambling
      February 23, 2023 at 11:21

      As part of the WHY of this madness keep in mind development of the New Silk Road described by Pepe Escobar in a series of articles in the past decade.

      Economic factors appear to lie at the base of globalist frenzy in the current conflict with the manipulation of Ukraine and the longer-range battle for control of the planet. Directly in the way of the unipolar and rules-based-order vision is the multipolar alternative posed, for example, by the following–with Russia and China in the bull’s eye zone.

      Consider this from 2019:

      “Meet Yuxinou, the container cargo train plying back and forth along the 11,000 km-long railway corridor connecting Chongqin in Sichuan province via Xinjiang and Kazakhstan to Russia, Belarus, Poland and finally Duisburg in the Ruhr valley. And all that in a mere 13 days.”


      More detail here from 2015:

      “It helps when you have $4 trillion in foreign currency reserves and massive surpluses of steel and cement.  That’s the sort of thing that allows you to go “nation-building” on a pan-Eurasian scale. Hence, Xi’s idea of creating the kind of infrastructure that could, in the end, connect China to Central Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe.  It’s what the Chinese call “One Belt, One Road”; that is, the junction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Twenty-First Century Maritime Silk Road.”


    • Rafael
      February 23, 2023 at 20:10

      I’ve read that “we will bury you” is a wrong tranlation done in real time by the UN translator. I don’t know what the actual Russian words were, unfortunately, but apparently a more correct rendering would be “we will be present at your funeral”. In other words, we will outlast you and our system will prove superior. Does anyone know the actual words?

      • Elina
        February 25, 2023 at 03:07

        The actual words were “We will show you kuzma’s mother’ which is an idiomatic phrase meaning widely a significant and unexpected threat like to thrash or teach a hard lesson . Even some Russians would hesitate to explain this idiom correctly

  16. eric siverson
    February 22, 2023 at 17:37

    China and Russia joined forces and made agreements on sharing all military technology after their humiliation in Yugoslavia . As i previously said about NATO’s war against Yugoslavia . Do you remember Alecksander Solzhenitsyn . The man that wrote so many books from his prison cell in the Sovieet Union . He was kicked out of Russia and moved to the USA . Sometime after Gorbachev started leading Russia he moved back home to Russia .In Russia Solzhenitsyn was now one of the most powerful religious and political leaders . Yeltson beat Gorbachev , so when NATO atttsckt Yugoslavia Yeltson sent troops to protect the Orthodox Christians in Yugoslavia . U.S. general Wesly Clark was the commander of all NATO forces . NATO did not want any Orthodox Christians protected only Muslims and Catholics . So Clark issued orders for NATO troops to shoot the Russian soldiers . The English troops refused the order because they did not want to start WWar 3 . None the less these orders angered Solzhenitsyn So he removed Yeltsen from office and installed Putin . A man he thought tough enough to standup against NATO . Putin arrived in office to late to save Yugoslavia and the largest ethnic group the Orthodox Christian were kicked out of more than !/2 of their country and Yugoslavia was destroyed . The Chinese were also humiliated when a U.S. missle was illegaly fired into the Chinese embassy killing several chinese . So you might say Russia and China lost the first round Yugoslavia . They have been preparing for the last 25 years for the next round .

  17. Martin
    February 22, 2023 at 17:31

    i just can’t believe the actual powers in the us (both sides of the aisle) didn’t see this coming (even musk kinda noticed what was happening), so i’m assuming they were aiming for this. alas, russia again seems to think that trumpist-republicans will be a better negotiating partner, while, imo, russia will have no one to talk to (us politicians just don’t get it). the ‘decent common sense’ people that mr ritter remembers from his time in the inner mechanics of the state (putin’s ‘people of honor’) are all purged by the crazies from the cellar. i think we’re all f*cked.

    • Rob Roy
      February 22, 2023 at 21:52


      Actually, Putin said, “It doesn’t matter who is president (of the U.S.). Their foreign policy never changes.”

  18. bardamu
    February 22, 2023 at 17:27

    Would that the will to peace were to somewhere intersect Western government. Apparently the mafia state has some self-destructive tendencies.

  19. Lois Gagnon
    February 22, 2023 at 16:19

    Thanks for the reality check Scott. Something that is sorely needed in Washington as those people have no interest in the concept. The only concept they understand is we rule the world or everyone dies. The saddest part is the vast majority of US Americans still believe everything they’re told when it comes to foreign policy. There is no logic for their belief as they know damn well they’ve been lied to about every war the US has instigated since Korea.

  20. mp.schaefer
    February 22, 2023 at 16:05

    Why are the points laid out by Ritter and Russia hidden from the conversation in the USA? Well we all know the answer to that.

    • Riva Enteen
      February 22, 2023 at 20:12

      For the same reason Sy Hersh had to publish his bombshell on substack. Prerequisite of fascism is control of the media.

  21. Maggie
    February 22, 2023 at 15:17

    Why is Scott Ritter not PRESIDENT of the USA? Kick out ALL the EYES WIDE SHUT belly crawling vermin, who are there solely to line their pockets and their bunkers, and replace with those with EYES WIDE OPEN. Who will work for the betterment of mankind. ALL MANKIND.
    God Bless You SCOTT.

  22. Rudy Haugeneder
    February 22, 2023 at 14:27

    In a world where mistakes are as common as the changing seasons, one mistake could easily end it all, not in a couple of years but in the immediate future. Here lies the folly empire(s): one mistake is all it takes, no matter which side shoots first. Even with treaties, as we have seen, the devil is in the details, including treaty suspensions. Ritter understands how close to the end we are, even without the warnings of the well publicized Doomsday Clock. Should we be breaking out the bourbon and vodka for a last drink to celebrate the end? Personally, I prefer tequila and am getting ready to purchase a good quality bottle of the stuff for the moments before whatever becomes the death shot (pun intended) happens.

    • Valerie
      February 22, 2023 at 16:18

      Carpe diem Rudy. I’ll have a posh cocktail.
      Save the planet. That is the only choice.

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