Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this month and reports that it could refuse to admit weapons inspectors under the 2010 New START deal threatens the global nuclear security structure on which the U.S. and more than 190 other countries depend.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is being viewed by world leaders as a gross violation of international law and a violation of Ukrainian national sovereignty, which threatens the very stability of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
Ukraine signed onto the NPT in December 1994 because of assurance from Russia and the United States that they would refrain from any military or economic coercion. Without these assurances, Ukraine would have become the 3rd largest nuclear state with 176 long range ballistic missiles, 42 strategic bombers, and more than 1,800 nuclear war heads.
In addition to refraining from manipulating Ukrainian political sovereignty Russia also agreed to provide nuclear rods for Ukrainian nuclear power plants.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the president has been working to build support for sanctions in order to stabilize the region.
“Since the Russian intervention, we’ve been mobilizing the international community to condemn this violation of international law and to support the people and government of Ukraine,” said President Obama from the White House Press Room on Thursday.
“The President has signed an Executive Order that authorizes sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine; threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine; contributing to the misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine; or purporting to assert governmental authority over any part of Ukraine without authorization from the Ukrainian government in Kyiv,” said Press Secretary Carney in remarks on Thursday.
The president has also suspended bilateral discussions on a case-by-case basis.
G-7 nations have also agreed to suspend G-8 preparations for a G-8 summit that was to be held in Sochi in June pending the outcome of the crisis in Ukraine.
“Russia cannot ignore calls for help it receives in this situation and it acts accordingly, in full compliance with international law,” Putin rebuffed Friday.
Crimea’s largely Russian speaking parliament decided to secede from Ukraine on Thursday, voting by simple majority.
Putin says he is responding to what he calls “absolutely illegitimate decisions,” being imposed on the eastern, southeastern and Crimean regions.
Putin has said that he regards Russian-U.S. cooperation as of the utmost importance to global security. “These relations should not be sacrificed to differences over individual – even though very important – international problems,” Putin said.
“Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders,” President Obama said in response to the Kremlin.
Both countries are keeping open lines between their respective State Departments and say they will continue to do so during the crisis. “Our preference here is not to keep hyping up sanctions; our preference here is to find an end to this conflict that’s happening through engagement, through discussion,” Jen Psaki said, a spokesperson for the State Department in a briefing Friday.
By Cory Clark