Russia's Putin says threat of nuclear war should not be underestimated

Vladimir Putin

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"It's very hard to imagine how the situation will develop (if the US quits the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty)".

"For mankind this is very bad, because it will take us to a risky point", Putin said, expressing concern about moves to lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, including the USA decision to produce lower-yield missiles.

"The U.S. base on Okinawa has been there for decades now".

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said the West was trying to hold back an increasingly powerful Russian Federation, during an end-of-year press conference that took aim at sanctions and "made-up" spy scandals.

Against a backdrop of strained ties with the US, Putin praised President Donald Trump's decision to pull troops out of Syria though condemned his withdrawal from a Cold War arms agreement.

"You aren't interested, you don't need it?"

Although the Russian leader has never openly accused Washington of having some global ambitions, he still said that the ongoing contest of influence in the worldwide arena is linked to "the United States leading role in the world economy" and its enormous defense spending amounting to "more than $ 700 billion", which Washington apparently seeks to translate into some political power. This trend "could lead to a global nuclear catastrophe", he said.

"We know how to ensure our safety", Putin said, "we can do that".

Putin said it's the United States, not Russian Federation, that's aspiring to dominate the world.

He had one nice things to say about the United States, however: He welcomed President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the USA military from Syria.

Russia's president also accused the U.S. of having world domination on its mind. Putin claimed that Maria Butina - accused of trying to infiltrate the NRA and American conservative circles around the time of Trump's election - made the guilty plea because of the threat of a long prison sentence in the case, which Putin described as fabricated. The pullout is also likely to strengthen Russia's role in Syria's future.

Putin showed no sign of backing down from Russia's stance on Ukraine.

The annual big press conference of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the World Trade Center on Krasnaya Presnya.

He showed no sign of backing down from Russia's stance on Ukraine, accusing his Ukrainian counterpart of provoking a naval standoff with Russian Federation to boost his electoral prospects.

Putin noted that it would be proper for the U.S.to leave Syria since it is there illegally, without invitation from the Syrian government in Damascus - as Russian Federation was - nor authorization from the United Nations Security Council. 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 the US and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies condemned as unjustified use of force by Russia.

Economic questions dominated the opening exchanges, with Vladimir Putin beginning as usual by reeling off growth figures.

"I believe humanity has the necessary common sense and desire to survive so as to avoid these extremes".

Putin said the economy grew 1.7 percent over the first 10 months of the year, roughly in line with predictions, while unemployment was down. However, the Russian president cast doubt on whether or not Trump would follow through, noting how the US has announced several withdrawals after 17 years in Afghanistan. Full-year growth is estimated at 1.8%.

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