Russia plans to stop cooperating with the U.S. in the effort to keep nuclear bombs out of the hands of terrorists, criminals, and rogue states, according to a report in the New York Times on Thursday. The ominous announcement came at the start of the G20 summit in Brisbane Australia, where Russian President Vladimir Putin engaged in a brazen display of military muscle-flexing.
The joint U.S.-Russia security agreement began in 1991 and was designed to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorist groups such as ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other dangerous and unpredictable groups.
Putin arrived at the G20 conference Friday morning with four Russian warships stationed just off the northeastern coast of Australia. The summit's host, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, is reportedly furious with Putin for the swaggering show of force, after Abbott had threatened to "shirtfront" Putin — that is, forcefully face him down — over the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 shootdown disaster in July.
The Russian warships now positioned off the Australian coast are seen by some observers as Putin's own "shirtfront" of Abbott, humiliating the Australian leader.
Australia sent three ships of its own to confront the Russian ships — causing a tense naval standoff at the same time leaders of the world's 20 top economic powers are meeting in what are supposed to be peaceful negotiations.
Now the head of Russia's nuclear operations, Sergey Kirienko, has told U.S. officials that Russia will no longer let the U.S. have a hand in insuring that Russia's nukes won't fall into the wrong hands.
The nuclear cooperation between Russia and the U.S. started right after the fall of the Soviet Union two decades ago, amid fears that in Russia's political chaos, nuclear material could easily be lost or stolen by criminals and terrorists.
In addition to pulling out of the security agreement, Russia has a "nuclear surprise" in store for NATO and the United States, warned the Russian newspaper Pravda in an article detailing the Russian nuclear arsenal this week.
The west will be "surprised" by the strength of Russia's nuclear readiness, Pravda says -- because the Russian nuclear forces are now more powerful than anything the United States possesses, the article claims.
"It just so happens that today, Russia's strategic nuclear forces (SNF) are even more advanced in comparison with those of the US, as they ensure parity on warheads with a significantly smaller number of carriers of strategic nuclear weapons," Pravda said. "This gap between Russia and the United States may only grow in the future, given the fact that Russian defense officials promised to rearm Russia's SNF with new generation missiles."