Putin: Threat of nuclear war shouldn’t be underestimated

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Moscow, Dec 20 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said that the threat of a nuclear war should not be underestimated as he accused the US of provoking an arms race after abandoning various agreements.

During his annual live-broadcast press conference, Putin said there was a trend to undermine the dangers a nuclear war could bring. He went on to say there was also a trend to reduce the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons which could lead to a global nuclear catastrophe, Efe news reported.

Putin slammed the US decision to abandon the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) established after the Cold War aimed at eliminating intermediate and shorter-range missiles, saying the move could provoke an arms race.

“It is very difficult to imagine how this situation will unfold,” he told the press. “And what we will do if these missiles appear in Europe?”

“We will, of course, guarantee our security. They better not shout when we achieve some advantages; we are not looking for advantages, we seek balance.”

Putin said Russia had to develop new weapons after the US abandoned an anti-ballistic missile treaty.

“Now we hear Russia has gained an advantage and yes it is true. No one in the world has these weapons,” he said, adding that “the great powers in the world will have them soon too, but for the moment they don’t”.

This year’s news conference was Putin’s 14th, according to state-run media outlet RT.

Asked about US President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement of a US troop withdrawal from Syria, Putin agreed with Trump’s assessment that the Islamic State had largely been defeated in Syria.

“As for defeating IS, I do generally agree with the President of the US. We have struck major blows and advances. There are now concerns that those terror groups can infiltrate neighbouring countries … and pose a risk to Russia, the US, Europe and Central Asia.”

“If the decision to withdraw was made, then it is a correct one,” Putin said, adding that the UN had not legitimized the presence of US forces in Syria.

Talking about Syria, the Russian leader said that establishment of the Syrian constitutional committee was reaching its final phase and the actual political settlement in the country could start as early as next year.

The constitutional committee dedicated to promoting a constitutional reform in Syria was created at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in January in the Russian city of Sochi.

–IANS

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