Shortly after Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev signed the New START agreement this morning, the Kremlin released the following statement:

The Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms signed in Prague on April 8, 2010, can operate and be viable only if the United States of America refrains from developing its missile defence capabilities quantitatively or qualitatively.

Consequently, the exceptional circumstances referred to in Article 14 of the Treaty include increasing the capabilities of the United States of America’s missile defence system in such a way that threatens the potential of the strategic nuclear forces of the Russian Federation.

Section 3 of Article 14 reads:

Each Party shall, in exercising its national sovereignty, have the right to withdraw from this Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this Treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests.

So basically Russia has already informed the United States that this Treaty is dead letter if the Obama administration develops missile defense capabilities in any way. The Obama administration may have scrapped land based missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, but Defense Secretary Roberts Gates’ 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review has made it clear that “further developing proven” missile defense capabilities is “a critical national security priority.”

As New York University professor of Russian Studies and History Stephen Cohen told MSNBC just seconds after Presidents Obama and Medvedev signed the agreement: “Politically it is an unstable treaty.”