US President Joe Biden has described Russia’s decision to halt its participation in a significant nuclear arms control agreement a “huge mistake”.
His comments on Wednesday came as he met leaders of NATO’s eastern flank to show support for their security.
Biden arrived in the Polish capital of Warsaw late on Monday, after making an unexpected trip to Kyiv just a few days before the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
In a talk to tens of thousands of people on Tuesday in Warsaw, Mr. Biden said “autocrats” like Russian President Vladimir Putin must be fought amid the worst level of hostility. He said this amid the highest tension between Russia and the West since the Cold War over three decades ago.
Hours earlier, Putin delivered lengthy remarks laden with criticism of Western powers, blaming them for the war in Ukraine. Biden said the West was never plotting to attack Russia and the invasion was Putin’s choice.
Putin also backed away from the New START arms control treaty – a 2010 agreement that limits the number of Russian and US deployed strategic nuclear warheads – and warned that Moscow could resume nuclear tests.
“It is a big mistake,” Biden said of Putin’s decision, as he headed into the meeting with eastern European allies.
Earlier on Wednesday, Biden met staff from the US Embassy in Warsaw before gathering leaders of the Bucharest Nine. These are countries on NATO’s eastern flank such as Poland, Bulgaria and Lithuania; they joined the Western military alliance after being dominated by Moscow during the Cold War.