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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Russia says US raising risk of nuclear war by threatening to leave key arms control treaty

Iran Press TV

Thu Dec 20, 2018 02:47PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the United States is making nuclear war more likely by threatening to leave an arms control treaty with Moscow and refusing to discuss the future of another such bilateral agreement.

Putin made the remarks on Thursday during his annual news conference, throwing the ball in Washington's court to avert the warfare.

"It's very hard to imagine how the situation will develop [if the US quits the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)," Putin said.

The 1987 pact, which Washington has threatened to ditch, bans the two sides from stationing short- and intermediate-range missiles in Europe. The treaty did not cover sea-launched missiles.

"If these missiles appear in Europe, what should we do? Of course, we'll have to ensure our own security," said the Russian head of state.

He, then, proceeded to address the New START, another Russo-American pact that limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads each side can have. It expires in 2021.

"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," Putin said.

"We are essentially witnessing the breakdown of the international arms control order and [the start of] an arms race," he added.

The Russian leader concluded, "In general, this is very bad for humankind because it takes us closer to a dangerous threshold," referring to the prospect of a nuclear conflict.

US inviting doom?

The Russian chief executive further cautioned, "If, God forbid, something like that were to happen, it would lead to the end of all civilization and maybe also the planet."

"These are serious questions and it's a real shame that there's a tendency to underestimate them," he asserted.

Putin, however, hoped that "humankind has enough common sense and sense of self-preservation not to take things to such extremes."

'Sanctions response to our power'

Separately, the Russian president said the issue of US-led Western sanctions targeting the country was nothing new as Moscow had always faced some bans of the sort.

The measures, he said, had been developed in response to an increase in Russia's power, and had, in a sense, proven to Moscow's benefit by making its economy resilient and changing its mindset in many aspects.

The US and its European allies have imposed multiple rounds of punitive measures against Russia over what they call Moscow's interference in Ukraine's affairs and allegations of the Kremlin's "malign activities" around the world.

Washington also accuses Moscow of interfering in the 2016 US presidential election.

Russia roundly rejects all the claims.

US Syria withdrawal

Putin also reacted to a recent announcement by the US that it was to pull its troops out of Syria.

"I don't know what this is about. The US has had a presence in Afghanistan for 17 years, lets say? And almost every year it says that it is withdrawing troops from there. But they are still present there," he said.

Putin added, though, "We don't see any indication of US withdrawing troops as of yet but I accept that it may be happening."

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump declared that the US had defeated Daesh in Syria, adding that the Takfiri terrorist group was the only reason that American troops were fighting in the war-ravaged Arab country during his presidency.

US officials said many details of the troop withdrawal were yet to be finalized, but emphasized that American forces would be back home by mid-January.

The US and a number of its allies have been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The US-led military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.

In 2015, US ground troops were deployed to Syria to fight Daesh and train Takfiri militant outfits.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.

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