Vladimir Putin criticises America for 'neglecting' the INF treaty

Vladimir Putin criticises America for 'neglecting' the INF treaty

The Russian president said Moscow will respond to any United States deployment of short or intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe, in a tough new stance although denying they would take the first step.

The announcement follows the U.S.' recent withdrawal from a key arms control pact.

The pact meant neither side could base short and intermediate-range land-based missiles in Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that if the US deploys its weapons, Russia will be "forced to take tit-for-tat steps". He said it will not only target the host countries but field new weapons that will target USA decision-making centers.

He added that the tests of the new Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile, the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile and the Poseidon nuclear-powered underwater drone have been progressing successfully.

The United States has long said that system is created to defend against "rogue" states such as Iran and provides no protection against Russia's nuclear arsenal. Both weapons allow the Russians to hit targets that were once out of range.

"I hope that they will be used to prevent new crises in the world like the Caribbean crisis".

Additionally, Putin confirmed last year's announcement that Russian Federation is developing powerful weapons of its own and that work on the "advanced" weapons systems "continues without failures".

Putin said the first batch of Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles will be deployed this year.

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Putin also announced the coming deployment of the new Zircon hypersonic missile for the Russian navy, saying it's capable of flying at nine times the speed of sound and will have a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles).

"We don't want confrontation, particularly with such a global power as the United States", he said. He said authorities should close 30 dump sites in big cities in the next two years.

He then seemed to taunt the USA, calling on leaders to calculate the range and speed of Russia's most advanced weapons.

Washington was the first to announce its withdrawal, accusing Moscow of developing new weapons that violated the treaty, but Putin on Wednesday dismissed the USA claims as "far-fetched".

Elsewhere in the speech, the Russian president promised state aid for large families to try to reverse population decline, an effort he dubbed "more children, fewer taxes".

The menacing talk about new weapons and the tough warnings aimed at the US followed a speech that mostly focused on domestic issues.

Putin also emphasized the need to combat poverty, saying that 19 million of Russia's approximately 147 million people live below the official poverty line, now the equivalent of around 160 dollars a month.

"I don't think this signals some change in policy, it's just a recognition that there's nothing that can be done" to improve relations, said Andrei Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council, a Moscow-based research group.

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