President Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused the United States of raising the risk of nuclear war by threatening to spurn a key arms control treaty and refusing to hold talks about another pact that expires soon
In a news conference that lasted more than three hours, Putin also backed U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria, said British Prime Minister Theresa May had no choice but to implement Brexit and that Western democracy was under serious strain.
Washington has threatened to pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) which bans Moscow and Washington from stationing short- and intermediate-range, land-based missiles in Europe.
Putin said the move, if it happened, would have unpredictable consequences.
We are essentially witnessing the breakdown of the international arms control order and (the start of) an arms race,” Putin told more than 1,000 reporters.
“It’s very hard to imagine how the situation will develop (if the United States quits the INF treaty). If these missiles appear in Europe what should we do? Of course, we’ll have to ensure our own security.”
Putin has previously said that Russia would be forced to train its own missiles on any European countries that host U.S. rockets.
Another U.S.-Russia treaty, the New START pact, which limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads each side can have, expires in 2021. Putin said he was worried that Washington didn’t appear to be interested in discussing its future.
No talks on extending this are yet being held. Are the Americans not interested, do they not need them? Ok, we’ll survive and will ensure our own security, which we know how to do. But in general, this is very bad for humankind because it takes us closer to a dangerous threshold.”