Putin says he's ready to start talks with US on arms control

Putin says he's ready to start talks with US on arms control
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Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinWest should echo Prague's Nemtsov remembrance Trump campaign sues New York Times for libel over 2019 op-ed Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE said he’s ready to restart arms control negotiations with the U.S. after both Washington and Moscow announced their withdrawal from a landmark nuclear missile treaty. 

Putin said Thursday he did not believe there would be a new arms race after pulling out of the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and that there had “recently been signs that Washington is beginning to consider resuming bilateral dialogue on a wide-ranging strategic agenda.” 

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“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 Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Putin added that he had discussed the matter with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE when they met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Japan last week.

Trump first announced in October that the U.S. would withdraw, saying Russia had violated the treaty by building a new missile system from the arms control pact. Russia responded in February by declaring that it too would pull out of the agreement.

The pact bans nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles. The original ban between Moscow and Washington resulted in 2,692 missiles being destroyed.

Besides the INF, Putin said the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is under threat, putting the onus on the U.S. to open up to negotiations. 

“How we should go forward together to reduce strategic armaments remains unclear. In early 2021 the New START treaty (on intercontinental missiles) expires. However, we are not currently seeing any U.S. willingness to discuss its extension or to draft a completely new agreement,” he said.

Putin dismissed speculation about an arms race, noting that Russia spends $48 billion on defense compared to the U.S. military budget of over $700 billion, but said Russia would not shy from a confrontation.

“We have no intention of getting involved in such a race, but we also have an obligation to ensure our security,” he said.