Putin slams 'aggressive' new US defence strategy

Moscow (AFP) –


Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday described the new defence strategy unveiled by US counterpart Donald Trump as "aggressive," saying Moscow would take that into account in its own actions.

The new National Security Strategy launched earlier this week "in diplomatic terms, has an obviously offensive character, and if we were to use military language, it is obviously aggressive," Putin said. "We must take this into account during our practical work."

Putin especially criticised what he called an increase of US and NATO presence in Europe and said Moscow must strive to build a powerful modern army to protect its sovereignty and ensure its interests in the world are protected.

"Russia must be among the leading countries, and in some areas the absolute leader, when it comes to building a new-generation army," Putin said. "This is important to ensure our sovereignty."

"We must follow the change in the world's balance of power, first and foremost near Russia's borders... and in Europe, where NATO infrastructure is being built up quickly."

He accused the US of violating the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty dating from 1987 which eliminated all nuclear and conventional missiles with short and intermediate range.

Moscow has said the US Patriot missile system in Poland and Romania could be tailored to shoot missiles at Russia. Washington has also accused Moscow of violating the treaty.

"Launching systems for air defence missiles can become systems for intermediate range cruise missiles at any moment," Putin said. "The US is on its way to destroying the INF treaty."