Putin warns of a new 'arms race'
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President Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday of a new arms race if America pulls out of weapons treaties, and said Russia would respond "in kind" to any new US missiles placed on European soil.
At the weekend, US President Donald Trump sparked concerns globally when he said he would ditch a Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty, the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
Speaking after hosting Trump's national security advisor John Bolton on Tuesday, Putin warned that abandoning the treaty, and failure to extend another key arms control agreement known as the New START, would unleash a new arms race and put Europe in danger.
Putin said dismantling a global arms control system was "very dangerous," adding Russia was concerned about the fact that the United States had already abandoned the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, planned to ditch the INF, and that the future of the New START was not clear.
"There would be nothing left except an arms race," he said at a news conference after talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
The Russian president said that if Washington moved to abandon the INF and placed more missiles in Europe, Russia would respond "in kind."
"Will we be able to respond?" he said. "Yes, we will and this will be very quick and effective."
Putin said any European countries agreeing to host US missiles would be at risk of a Russian attack.
"These are obvious things," the Russian leader said.
"We will return to the situation with the Pershing missiles in Europe," he said, referring to US missiles stationed in Western Europe in the 1980s.
Putin said he saw no reason to put Europe in danger and accused the United States of violating the INF treaty.
Putin and Trump are set to attend an event in Paris on November 11 commemorating the centenary of the end of World War I.
The Kremlin said Wednesday it was ready to discuss the possibility of a summit between Putin and Trump in Washington next year.
© 2018 AFP