Putin: Unilateral US withdrawal from ABM treaty pushing Russia toward new arms race

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a panel discussion during the plenary meeting of the 19th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2015.
(RIA Novosti / Sergey Guneev)
Global decisions like the US pulling out of a treaty banning strategic anti-ballistic missile defenses are pushing the world towards a new Cold War, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. Military conflicts have a far lesser impact, he added.

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“Not military conflicts but global decisions like the US unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty lead to a Cold War,” Putin said. “This more in fact pushes us to a new round of the arms race, because it changes the global security system.”

Putin made his comments at a key plenary session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The 1972 ABM treaty between the US and Soviet Union ensured that neither side tried to neutralize its foe's nuclear deterrence by building an anti-missile shield. The US unilaterally withdrew from it in 2002, as the Bush administration claimed it needed protection from “rogue states” such as North Korea and Iran. Moscow believes that the US is actually building a global anti-missile system to undermine the defenses of Russia and China.

The Russian president's comments came in response to a question whether he felt that the Ukrainian armed conflict was pushing Russia and the US towards a Cold War-like confrontation.

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Putin warned the US against trying to use the language of ultimatums in its relations with Russia.

“The problem is that they are constantly trying to impose their standards and decisions on us with no regard to our interests,” he explained. “In essence they say: 'we are better' as if the US knows better what is good for us. Well, let us decide for ourselves what our interests and needs are as dictated by our history and culture.”

He accused Washington of meddling in Russia's internal affairs and sticking to an arrangement that pits Russia either with America or against it.

“This is no dialogue. It's an ultimatum. Don't speak the language of ultimatums with us.”

Ukraine is another example of how the US is causing trouble by maintaining its arrogant approach to international politics, Putin said.

“They should not have supported the anti-constitutionalists’ armed coup that in the end led to a violent confrontation in Ukraine, a civil war in fact,” he said. “We are not the cause of all those crisis events that Ukraine is experiencing.”