2023: Russia Suspends Only Remaining Major Nuclear Treaty With US
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Putin also said in his state-of-the-nation address that Russia should be ready to resume nuclear weapons tests if the U.S. did so. This would end a global ban on nuclear weapons tests that had been in place since the Cold War.
Putin said that the U.S. and its NATO allies have made it clear that they want Russia to lose in Ukraine. This is why he decided to stop Russia’s obligations under New START.
“They want to inflict a strategic defeat’ on us while also trying to get to our nuclear facilities,” he said, announcing Russia’s decision to withdraw from the treaty. “In this context, I must announce today that Russia is withdrawing from the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Arms.”
The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms is the official name of New START.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Putin’s decision “deeply unfortunate and irresponsible,” adding, “we’ll be watching carefully to see what Russia actually does.”
“Of course, we’ll make sure that in any event we’re postured appropriately for the security of our own country and that of our allies,” he said, adding that “we remain ready to talk about strategic arms limitations with Russia at any time, regardless of what else is going on in the world or our relationship.”
People Strongly Urge Putin To Reconsider
“I think it’s important that we keep acting responsibly in this area,” Blinken told reporters during a visit to Greece. “It’s also something that the rest of the world anticipates from us.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also regretted Putin’s decision, saying that “the full arms control architecture has been dismantled with today’s decision on New START.”
“I strongly urge Russia to reconsider its decision and to adhere to existing agreements,” he told reporters.
While the U.S. has pushed for the resumption of inspections of Russian nuclear facilities under the treaty, Putin argued that NATO allies had assisted Ukraine in mounting drone attacks on Russian air bases hosting nuclear-capable strategic bombers.
The Russian military said it shot down the Soviet-built drones that attacked two bomber bases deep inside Russia in December, but it also admitted that debris killed several servicemen and damaged some aircraft.
Putin dismissed NATO’s statement urging Russia to allow the United States to resume inspections of Russian nuclear weapons sites as “some kind of absurd theatre.”
“With NATO’s expert assistance, the drones used for it were equipped and modernized,” Putin said. “And now they want to inspect our defense facilities? It sounds ridiculous in the context of today’s confrontation.”
Russia Has Plans To Deploy More Weapons
He stated that he signed a week ago order to deploy new land-based strategic missiles and queried, “Are they also going to poke their noses there?”
The Russian leader also stated that NATO’s statement on New START raises the issue of Britain and France’s nuclear weapons, which are part of the alliance’s nuclear capability but are not included in the US-Russia pact.
“They’re also aimed at us. “They are aimed at Russia,” he stated. “Before we return to discussing the treaty, we need to understand NATO members Britain and France’s aspirations, as well as how we take into account their strategic arsenals, which are part of the alliance’s combined strike potential.”
Putin emphasized that Russia is suspending its participation in New START but is not completely withdrawing from the treaty.
The New START treaty, signed by U.S. President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, limits each country to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. The agreement calls for extensive on-site inspections to ensure compliance.
Russia and the United States agreed to extend the treaty for another five years, just days before it expired in February 2021.
Russia and the U.S. have suspended mutual inspections
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia and the U.S. have suspended mutual inspections under New START, but Moscow last fall refused to allow them to resume, raising concerns about the pact’s future. Russia also postponed a planned round of treaty consultations indefinitely.
According to the U.S. State Department, Russia’s refusal to allow the inspections “prevents the U.S. from exercising important rights under the treaty and jeopardizes the viability of US-Russian nuclear arms control.” Nothing prevents Russian inspectors from inspecting U.S. facilities, according to the report.
On Tuesday, Putin disputed the U.S. claim that Washington had denied some Russian requests for visits to specific U.S. facilities.
“Under the treaty, we are not permitted to conduct full-fledged inspections,” he explained. “We can’t check anything on their end.”
He claimed that the United States was developing nuclear weapons and that some in the country were considering plans to resume nuclear tests banned under the global test ban that went into effect after the Cold War ended.
“In this case, Rosatom (Russia’s state nuclear corporation) and the Defense Ministry must ensure readiness for Russian nuclear weapon tests,” Putin said. “We naturally won’t be the first to do it, but if the U.S. conducts tests, we will do it. No one should believe that global strategic parity can be destroyed.”
SOURCE – (AP)
Strike Over Pay Paralyzes Rail, Air Travel In Germany
BERLIN — Trains, aircraft, and public transportation systems were grounded across most of Germany on Monday as labor unions launched a big one-day strike over pay to obtain inflation-busting raises for their members.
The 24-hour strike, one of the country’s largest in decades, also impacted cargo movement by train and ship as workers at the country’s ports and waterways joined the strike.
Many commuters chose to travel to work, generating some traffic delays, while those who could work from home did so.
Unions are seeking a 10.5% pay increase and have rejected employer offers of approximately 5% over two years plus one-time bonuses.
According to Ulrich Silberbach of the Civil Service Federation, high inflation observed everywhere last year affected many workers hard.
“We have seen a drop in real wages, which needs to be balanced,” he told reporters in Berlin, adding that some of his union’s members in major cities must request public assistance to pay their rent.
Silberbach expressed hope that employers will raise their offer in the next discussions or that unions would be forced to consider an open-ended strike.
Three days of talks are scheduled between the two sides.
His EVG train union colleague Martin Burkert noted that workers’ salaries are a fraction of some senior executives’ salaries.
However, Deutsche Bahn dismissed the union’s proposals as overblown and warned that millions of commuters would be affected.
“Thousands of companies that normally send or receive goods by rail will also suffer,” said Achim Strauss, a spokesman for Deutsche Bahn. “In the end, the environment and the climate will suffer.” The oil companies are today’s winners.”
He said that train tickets that couldn’t be used because of the disruption would remain valid, and travelers should check the company’s website for updates.
The strike caused inconvenience and delays Sunday.
Three days of talks are scheduled between the two sides. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, representing the federal government in the talks, said her side would be “tough but fair and constructive” in the discussions.
Faeser expressed confidence that a satisfactory solution may be found.
Labor strikes are common in Germany, and they usually conclude with a compromise agreement reached between unions and employers.
The strike caused inconvenience and delays Sunday as travelers hurried to reach their destinations early.
SOURCE – (AP)
UN Head Says Survival Depends On How People Manage Water In 2023
WATER The United Nations Humanity’s survival depends on how people manage water, said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday at the close of a three-day conference on global water resources, during which developing countries made urgent requests for assistance with cleaner drinking water and better sanitation.
In his final remarks, Guterres stated, “All of humanity’s hopes for the future depend, in some way, on charting a new course to sustainably manage and conserve water.”
He stated that water “needs to be at the center of the global political agenda” and that this implies more aggressive action against climate change.
According to the United Nations World Water Development Report, released on the eve of the conference, 26% of the world’s population—2 billion people — lacks access to safe drinking water, while 46% — 3.6 billion people — lack access to basic sanitation. According to UN studies, nearly half the world’s population will face acute water stress by 2030.
Many rhetorical pledges to enhance water supply were made at the conference, but there needed to be more precise commitments to translate aspirations into better daily lives for regular people.
Throughout the meeting, water-stressed states, particularly those in the developing world
“We have such lovely, ambitious initiatives,” said Lina Taing, senior researcher at the global think tank United Nations University.
“We know that we are completely off track,” she stated, regarding providing them with clean water and sanitation. Taing stated that the world’s actions must be increased “fourfold.”
Throughout the meeting, water-stressed states, particularly those in the developing world, told U.N. members of their need for international aid to provide their people with drinking water and sanitation facilities.
“Waging a war on two fronts at the same time to address water issues and climate change is no easy task, especially for a small island nation like Kiribati, which has very limited resources at its disposal,” said Teburoro Tito, the United Nations representative for the Pacific island nation of fewer than 200,000 people. He claimed that Kiribati was particularly unprepared to deal with natural calamities.
SOURCE – (AP)
1 Million March In France, Unions Call New Pension Protests
PARIS MARCH — After more than a million people rallied across France on Thursday against unpopular pension reforms, French unions called for further statewide strikes and protests the following week, coinciding with King Charles III’s anticipated visit to France.
According to the Interior Ministry, the march in Paris attracted 119,000 participants, setting a record for the city’s capital during the pension demonstrations. However, as were many other marches, the march was plagued by violence. According to polls, most French people are against President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, which he claims is vital to maintain the system.
The unions quickly announced fresh demonstrations and strikes for Tuesday, the day the British king is expected to visit Bordeaux as part of his trip to France, building on the significant turnout. According to the Sud Ouest newspaper, on Thursday night, participants in an unofficial demonstration set fire to and completely demolished the heavy wooden entrance of the Bordeaux City Hall.
According to the ministry, in cities and towns around the nation on Thursday, more than a million people participated in protest marches.
Gerald Darmanin, the interior minister, went to the police headquarters on Thursday night march as fires were still raging in some Parisian neighborhoods hours after the march had concluded.
The protests were conducted the day after Macron infuriated his detractors even more by refusing to back down on the retirement bill that his administration rushed through parliament without a vote.
The eight unions organizing the protests march stated that “while the (president) tries to turn the page, this social and union movement… confirms the determination of the world of workers and youth to obtain the withdrawal of the reform.” On Tuesday, further nationwide strikes and protests were called for in addition to localized action this weekend.
Thursday night march as fires were still raging in some Parisian neighborhoods
Strikes disrupted travel as demonstrators surrounded ports, refineries, and Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.
In Paris, clashes between police and groups wearing black masks that attacked at least two fast food establishments, a supermarket, and a bank reflected the violence’s escalation and diverted attention from the tens of thousands of nonviolent demonstrators.
Police charged repeatedly and fired tear gas to disperse the protestors after being attacked with objects and pyrotechnics. After the march, protesters gathered at the Place de l’Opera, partially obscured by a tear gas haze. The “radical elements,” according to the police, number around 1,000 persons.
Other marches were plagued by violence, particularly in Lyon in the southeast and the western cities of Nantes, Rennes, and Lorient, where an administrative building was stormed, its courtyard set ablaze, and its windows destroyed.
The nine union-organized rallies around the country on Thursday were the ninth to occur since January, when opponents of Macron’s proposal to raise the retirement age still hoped that parliament would reject it. However, the administration used a unique constitutional provision to force it through.
In a French interview on Wednesday, Macron remained steadfast in his belief that new legislation is required to maintain retirement funds. Other suggestions made by opponents included raising taxes on the affluent or businesses, which according to Macron, would harm the economy. He maintained that by the end of the year, the government’s law to raise the retirement age must be implemented.
The proposal now has to be approved by the Constitutional Council. But the opposition won’t give up.
The strikes on Thursday caused the Eiffel Tower and the Versailles Palace.
The chief of the moderate CFDT labor union, Laurent Berger, “We are trying to say before the law is enacted… that we have to find a way out and we continue to say that the way out is the withdrawal of the law.”
Public transportation networks in other significant cities, the Paris metro, and high-speed and regional trains were all affected. At Paris Orly Airport, almost 30% of scheduled flights were canceled.
The strikes on Thursday caused the Eiffel Tower and the Versailles Palace, where the British monarch will dine with Macron, to be shuttered.
Violence, a regular problem during demonstrations, has been worse recently. 12,000 security personnel, including 5,000 in Paris, would be on French streets on Thursday, according to Gerald Darmanin.
In a statement, the Education Ministry stated that 15% of instructors in high schools and roughly 24% of primary and intermediate school teachers took a sick day on Thursday.
Several hundred strikers wielding flares and yelling, “Macron, go away,” marched on the Paris Gare de Lyon train station rails to stop trains from moving. They were carrying flares.
Maxime Monin, 46, expressed concern that his and other public transportation workers’ holidays this year might be less enjoyable. He emphasized that such workers are not paid on strike days. But the price was worthwhile.
A bus depot in Pantin, in the northern suburbs of Paris, was blocked by several dozen union members during rush hour, preventing 200 vehicles from leaving.
A 48-year-old bus driver involved in the protest, Nadia Belhoum, condemned Macron’s choice to push through the higher retirement age.
She declared, “The president of the Republic is not a monarch, and he should listen to his people.
SOURCE – (AP)
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