Russia is ready to talk to the US about arms control with no intention of getting involved in an arms race – Putin
President Vladimir Putin said Russia is ready to restart discussions with the United States over arms control and denied that the collapse of a significant nuclear missile treaty between the two nations would prompt an arms race.
Putin said on Thursday, there had “recently been signs that Washington is beginning to consider resuming bilateral dialogue on a wide-ranging strategic agenda”, despite its recent decision lift the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (or INF treaty) signed in 1987. The INF treaty was signed in 1987 and was put forward to end decades of overwhelming insecurity surrounding arms developed during the Cold War. The U.S. was formally withdrawing from the agreement on August 2. In late June, NATO called on Russia to save the treaty by destroying the disputed cruise missile system but there are no signs this would happen.
Putin stated in an interview with an Italian newspaper, “I think that the achievement of concrete agreements in the field of arms control would contribute to strengthening international stability. Russia has the political will to work towards this. Now it’s up to the U.S.”
He revealed that he had spoken to President Donald Trump on the matter during their recent meeting on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty (G-20) summit in Japan last weekend.
Putin formally suspended Russia’s participation in the INF treaty with the U.S. on Wednesday. The treaty ensures that neither country can produce, possess, or flight-test ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
The Trump administration in October said that it planned to pull out of the treaty and confirmed its withdrawal in February, stating Russia had violated the agreement by building a new missile system. Russia denies the accusations and has, in turn, accused the U.S. of violating the terms and mentioned that the U.S.′ missile defense system in Eastern Europe is a violation of the agreement. But the U.S. administration is insisting that the system is to defend itself and Europe from “Rogue States.”
In a meantime, the U.S. has said Russia has violated the agreement with what it says is a “non-compliant missile system” called the 9M729 (or SSC-8) cruise missile system. Russia denied this, claiming that the missile obeys INF treaty limits. In February, Putin warned of a targeted response if the U.S. tends to station missiles in countries neighboring Russia.
Putin mentioned to the Italian newspaper that the “collapse of the international security system” had begun when the U.S. had unilaterally withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT) in 2002 and that by now pulling out of the INF treaty, the U.S. was “de facto dismantling yet another agreement.” He said another nuclear reduction treaty, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, also known as New START, was also under threat.
“How we should go forward together to reduce strategic armaments remains unclear. In early 2021 the New START treaty (on intercontinental missiles) expires. However, we are not currently seeing any U.S. willingness to discuss its extension or to draft a completely new agreement,” he said.
Putin mentioned that there should be a comparison of “how much Russia spends on defense — about $48 billion — with the U.S. military budget — over $700 billion. So what arms race are we talking about?”
“We have no intention of getting involved in such a race, but we also have an obligation to ensure our security,” Putin added.