Putin says West trying to 'hold back' powerful Russian Federation

Marcus Newton
December 21, 2018

The United States delivered Russian Federation a 60-day ultimatum earlier this month to come clean about what Washington says is a violation of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty between Moscow and Washington.

The world is facing a rising threat of a nuclear war because of the USA pullout from arms control treaties and its destabilizing military plans, Russian President Vladimir Putin said today.

On another key worldwide issue, Putin said he is working toward a deal solving a World War II-era territorial dispute with Japan, though he cautioned that concerns over a Japan-U.S. security pact must be addressed for an agreement to happen. Are the Americans not interested, do they not need them?

Putin warned that "there is a trend of lowering the threshold" of using nuclear weapons, adding that "lowering the threshold could lead to a global nuclear catastrophe". USA officials say the withdrawal from the INF was prompted by Russian violations of the treaty.

The annual event, Putin's 14th of its kind, is used by the Russian leader to burnish his leadership credentials and send messages to foreign allies and foes.

Putin also said the West was trying to hold back an increasingly powerful Russian Federation as he took aim at sanctions and "made-up" spy scandals, including the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England.

In more conciliatory language, Putin rallied to Trump's defense against his domestic opponents, warning that the Democrats' success in the midterm elections to the House of Representatives will lead to "new attacks" on the US president.

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Earlier this month, Maria Butina pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge for trying to infiltrate conservative political groups in the USA, as part of a deal with federal prosecutors.

Asked about Western sanctions against Russia, Putin said these were "connected with the growth of Russia's power".

US President Donald Trump, in October this year, had announced the US' decision to withdraw from the nuclear treaty. "We will ensure our security; we know how to do it". The pullout is also likely to strengthen Russia's role in Syria's future. However, he voiced readiness to normalize ties after the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March. There is only one aim: "to hold back Russia's development", he said, later lamenting that relations with Britain were at a "dead end".

An increase to the retirement age this year provoked anger and rare street protests but Mr Putin said the hike was "unavoidable" when questioned on the subject. He accused his Ukrainian counterpart of provoking a naval standoff with Russian Federation to boost his electoral prospects.

Putin pledged that the government will create incentives to speed up growth. The Russian coast guard fired upon and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and 24 seamen when they tried to sail from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov in what U.S. and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies condemned as unjustified use of force by Russia.

President Putin began the press conference, as usual, by reeling off economic growth figures.

Russia's gross domestic product is set to grow by 1.8 percent this year, while industrial output has grown faster at 3%, he said.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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