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Putin warns of new ‘arms race’ if Trump abandons nuclear pacts

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump during a photo session of world leaders on the closing day of the 25th APEC Summit on Nov. 11, 2017 in Da Nang, Vietnam. (Metzel Mikhail/TASS/Zuma Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Washington’s withdrawal from a decades-old nuclear treaty could lead to a new “arms race,” and the Kremlin said it would put the U.S. decision before the United Nations for a symbolic vote.

Responding to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision this week to pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Putin said late on October 24 that the United States already abandoned the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, while it has been unwilling to discuss renewing another major nuclear treaty — the New START treaty — which governs strategic nuclear missile launchers and is due to expire in 2021.

“If all this is dismantled, then nothing will be left when it comes to limiting the increase in arms,” Putin said at a news conference after talks in Moscow with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. “And then the situation will be, in my view, extremely dangerous. All that will be left is an arms race.”

Trump has said he is pulling out of the 1987 treaty because Russia has been violating it since at least 2014 and because it does not apply to China, which has been developing the kind of short- and intermediate-range missiles eliminated by Russia and the United States under the treaty.

Putin said he wants to discuss the issue with Trump when they attend a November 11 event in Paris commemorating the end of World War I.

“We are ready to work with our American partners without any hysterics,” he said.

As he spoke, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in an interview with Channel One television that the Kremlin is drafting a resolution to present to the UN General Assembly for a symbolic vote on preserving the 1987 treaty spurned by Trump.

“We will see how countries, including U.S. allies, will react to this,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

Ryabkov told Channel One that Trump’s moves to pull the United States out of a number of major treaties since taking office in January 2017 is what he called “alarming.”

He noted that in addition to the INF treaty, Trump has moved to withdraw from the landmark 2015 climate change agreement, Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, UNESCO agreements, and the Universal Postal Union.

“We do not know if there is an end to this road,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.