Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that his country is ready to rekindle disarmament discussions with the United States, dismissing speculations that an arms race was imminent due to the collapse of a significant nuclear missile treaty between the two countries.
Putin stressed Thursday there had “recently been signs that Washington is beginning to consider resuming bilateral dialogue on a wide-ranging strategic agenda,” even though it recently decided to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed over three decades ago.
“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.,” Putin said in an interview with an Italian newspaper.
CNBC writes that the Russian president also noted he had spoken about the issue with President Donald Trump, with whom he met during the G20 summit in Japan.
He formally suspended Russia’s participation in the treaty on Wednesday, while the U.S. is to exit it on August 2. The Trump administration, on its part, announced its plans to pull out from it last October and confirmed the withdrawal in February, citing alleged violations by Russia. Moscow has denied the allegations, accusing the U.S. of the same violations.
The treaty banned both countries from producing, possessing and testing ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
In announcing its withdrawal, Washington said that Russia has built a new missile system and thus violated the terms of the treaty, while Moscow insists that the American missile defense system in eastern Europe is a violation of the agreement.
The INF was signed in 1987 in order to put an end to the insecurities around the Cold War. Last month, NATO urged Russia to save the agreement by destroying the missile system, but Russia seems to be refusing to do so.
Putin said in the interview that the “collapse of the international security system” had begun when the U.S. had unilaterally withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT) in 2002 and that by now pulling out of the INF treaty, the U.S. was “de facto dismantling yet another agreement.”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 further pointed to the discrepancy in defense spending between his country and the U.S. – $48 billion compared to $700 billion, saying, “So what arms race are we talking about? We have no intention of getting involved in such a race.”