Russia’s President Vladimir Putin sat down with three Arab-language media, including RT Arabic, to discuss Russia’s policies and ties in the Middle East and beyond, as well as a looming arms race with the US and NATO’s expansion.

Russia will never be friends ‘with one country against another’ in the Middle East – Putin

Vladimir Putin: “In 2002 the United States withdrew from the ABM Treaty, which I would like to reiterate was the cornerstone in the entire global strategic security system because it imposed limits on the missile defense systems of our countries. Do you see the point, the point was to make it clear that neither party can ever win a nuclear war should it happen, this was the whole point. The United States since withdrew from the treaty in order to secure some serious strategic advantage for themselves, thinking that they might shield themselves from a threat unlike Russia. It would leave Russia in a very vulnerable position, while the U.S. will be protected by an ABM system back. Back then I told our U.S. counterparts that there is no way of knowing how well such a system would work, and so we will not waste tens of billions on it, but strategic balance must be maintained, which means that we will develop offensive weapons that will defeat any ABM system, and we have developed them, and everyone knows it by now. The ABM systems are designed to intercept ballistic missiles i.e. missiles that follow ballistic trajectory, whereas what we did was we enhanced improved ballistic missiles significantly and developed a new weapon that has no rivals in the world. We have hypersonic misses that follow a low trajectory rather than a ballistic one, no one has hypersonic missiles today except us, of course the leading powers will one day develop them sooner or later, but we will be able to come up with something new by that time. I know what projects our scientist researchers, designers, and engineers are working on right now, unfortunately this has led to an arms race of sorts, but that is what has happened, it is a fact sadly this is true. Now recently the U.S. also withdrew from the intermediate-range nuclear force, INF Treaty, I think it was a mistake to, and that they could have gone a different path. I do understand the U.S. concerns, while other countries are free to enhance their defenses, Russia and the U.S have tied their own hands with this treaty. I still believe it is not worth ruining the deal. I believe there were other ways out of the situation. The New START treaty is actually the only treaty that we have to prevent us from falling back into a full-scale arms race. It serves to further reduce and limit strategic offensive arms that is to limit the entire range of strategic weapons, the entire strategic triad land, sea, and air, based combat intercontinental ballistic missile launches. This treaty expires in 2021. To make sure it’s extended we need to be working on it right now. We’ve already submitted our proposals they are on the table of the U.S. administration there has been no answer so far. Our understanding is they have no made up their minds yet as to whether they need to extend the treaty or not, but if this treaty is not extended the world will have no means of limiting the number offensive weapons, and this is bad news. The situation will change globally, it will become more precarious and the world will be less safe in a much less predictable place than today.