Putin accuses US of violating Cold War-era nuclear pact
Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday accused the US of violating a landmark Cold War-era nuclear arms pact and harbouring aggressive intentions, and pledged to fend off any potential threats at a fraction of the US cost.
Putin, speaking during a meeting with the top military brass, alleged that the US missile defence sites in Romania containing interceptor missiles could also house ground-to-ground intermediate-range cruise missiles, which would be in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
He added that US launches of target vehicles as part of tests represented another violation of the pact that bans all land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometres (310-3,410 miles).
Washington has rejected claims of perceived violations, and accused Russia of breaking the pact by developing a new cruise missile, accusations Moscow has denied.
"They are searching for some violations on our part while consistently infringing on it themselves," Putin said. "All that seriously affects security in Europe and in the whole world."
The Russian leader also pointed at the new US national security strategy as proof of what he described as Washington's aggressive intentions.
He emphasised that the deployment of NATO forces near Russia's borders has threatened its security.
"When we move military units on our own territory, they present it as some kind of a threat," he said. "And when they move military bases, infrastructure, and new weapons near our borders they present it as something normal. It's probably normal for those who do it, but not for us."
NATO has deployed military units to Poland and the Baltics to reassure allies worried over Russia's intentions following its 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea and its support for pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Putin mentioned NATO's US-led missile defence system and efforts to develop new prospective conventional weapons among other security challenges.