Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested he is open to the idea of other countries joining a Cold War nuclear-arms treaty between Russia and the United States or to starting talks on a new pact.
Putin made the comments on December 18, after Washington earlier this month threatened to abandon the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) unless Moscow returns to compliance with the accord within 60 days.
The bilateral 1987 pact prohibits Russia and the United States from producing, possessing, and deploying ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.
President Donald Trump announced in October that the United States would withdraw from the agreement, citing alleged Russian violations and concerns that the bilateral treaty binds Washington to restrictions while leaving nuclear-armed countries that are not signatories, such as China, free to develop and deploy the missiles.
Missiles Banned By The INF Treaty
Moscow denies it is in breach of the accord and accuses the United States of violating it. Washington denies that.
Speaking at a Defense Ministry meeting, Putin said there was nothing to stop Russia and the United States from holding talks with other countries about the possibility of them joining the INF Treaty in a bid to salvage it.
'Yes, indeed, there are certain difficulties with this treaty,' the Russian leader said. 'Other countries possessing short- and intermediate-range missiles are not party to it.
'But what prevents [us] from starting talks on their accession to the existing treaty or starting negotiating the parameters of a new treaty?' Putin asked.
He also said that Russia could easily make and deploy land-based intermediate-range missiles if the United States ditched the accord.
'Whatever the complaints about the treaty, in current conditions it plays a stabilizing role, works to support a certain level of predictability and restraint in the military sphere,' the Russian president said.
In a tweet on December 3, Trump expressed certainty that 'at some time in the future' he, Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping 'will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race.'
With reporting by Reuters and AFP RFE/RL
RFE/RL journalists report the news in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.
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