Donald Trump Vladimir Putin handshake

Putin Threatens US With New Arms Race

The Russian President has warned the United States against deploying new missiles in Europe.

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin handshake

Presidents Trump and Putin shake hands at their meeting in Helsinki, 2016 (Picture: PA). 

President Vladimir Putin has sternly warned the United States against deploying new missiles in Europe. 

Mr Putin threatened Russia would retaliate by fielding unspecified new weapons that will take just as little time to reach their targets.

While the Russian leader did not say what specific new weapons Moscow could deploy, his statement further raised the ante in tense relations with Washington.

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Speaking in his state of the nation address, Mr Putin said the United States was withdrawing from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty to allow it to build new missiles and trying to shift the blame onto Russia.

"Our American partners should have honestly said it instead of making unfounded accusations against Russia to justify their withdrawal from the treaty," Mr Putin declared.

Vladimir Putin Wins Russian Election Credit: PA Images
President Putin celebrates re-election (Picture: PA).

The INF Treaty bans the production, testing and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,410 miles).

The intermediate-range weapons were seen as particularly destabilising as they take a shorter time to reach their targets compared with the intercontinental ballistic missiles.

That would leave practically no time for decision-makers, raising the likelihood of a global nuclear conflict over a false launch warning.

In October US President Donald Trump vowed to leave the INF Treaty on the grounds that:

"Russia has violated the [INF] agreement. They have been violating it for many years."

US President Donald Trump declares national emergency during speech at the White House
President Trump said Russia have not been compliant with the INF Treaty for years (Picture: PA).

Mr Putin said new intermediate-range missiles would only take 10-12 minutes to reach Moscow.

"It's a very serious threat to us, and we will have to respond.”

He continued that Moscow would develop weapons able to reach enemy targets within a similar time-frame:

 "Russia will be forced to create and deploy new types of weapons that could be used not only against the territories where a direct threat to us comes from, but also against the territories where decision-making centres directing the use of missile systems threatening us are located," he said.

"The capability of such weapons, including the time to reach those centres, will be equivalent to the threats against Russia."

Hypersonic missile
The launch of a Russian hypersonic missile (Picture: Russian Ministry of Defence).

Mr Putin also hit out at US economic sanctions against Russia but said he still wanted to be friends with America:

"We don't want confrontation, particularly with such a global power as the US," he said.

The rest of the speech mostly focused on domestic policies, with Mr Putin promising to raise standards in the country’s education and health systems.