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27 Jun, 2019 21:18

Russia to support any agreement, including with China, if it contains arms race – Putin

Russia to support any agreement, including with China, if it contains arms race – Putin

The world would be a “different place” if the US did not withdraw from key arms control treaties, Russian President Vladimir Putin told the Financial Times ahead of the G20 summit, adding that Moscow has never sought an arms race.

The world might yet see a new nuclear arms race, Putin warned, adding that the international arms control regime has been destabilized, not least because of Washington’s unilateral actions. It was the US that “unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty (ABM), and has recently quit the INF treaty as well,” he told two FT reports on Wednesday. Putin was referring to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces agreement – a key 1987 accord between the US and the USSR, which banned land-based short- and mid-range missiles, greatly contributing to easing tensions in Europe during the Cold War.

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Putin said that US accusations, which the Trump administration used to justify its withdrawal from the INF, were just an excuse to return to new arms development.

“I do not think Russia means anything to them in this case, because this war theatre, the war theatre in Europe is unlikely to be interesting to the US,” he said.

Putin recalled how he “made very energetic attempts to convince” the administration of George W. Bush not to withdraw from another treaty Russia considered “the cornerstone of the entire international security system” – the ABM. At that time, Moscow came up with “absolutely specific proposals,” involving “jointly on missile-defense projects that should have involved the US, Russia and Europe” as well as “technology exchanges and the elaboration of decision-making mechanisms” to make the US keep the treaty but all efforts were in vain.

I am convinced that the world would be a different place today, had our US partners accepted this proposal. Unfortunately, this did not happen.

Now, the situation is moving towards another arms race, Putin admitted, adding that “this is not our choice” and Russia “should at least do everything so as to not aggravate the situation.”

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Moscow could support a trilateral treaty between Russia, the US and China to replace the INF but only if it suits all sides, including Beijing.

We will support any agreement that can advance our cause, that is, help us contain the arms race.

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