Putin issues sinister warning on rising nuclear war threat

Putin: Nothing to stop new states joining nuclear pact with US and Russia

Russia confirms US' withdrawal from INF treaty, says Moscow will retaliate if Washington threatens its...

On the USA threat to quit the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty, Putin also said: "We are essentially witnessing the breakdown of the global arms control order and (the start of) an arms race".

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday there was no reason for keeping Russian citizen Maria Butina, accused of conspiracy to influence Washington's relations with Moscow, in United States custody.

On another key global 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.

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

According to Russian television network RT, Ryabkov said, "Washington publicly announced its plans to withdraw from the treaty (INF) already in October".

Russia and Ukraine have been locked in long-simmering conflict since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, and a war with Russian-backed separatists in the country's east has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

"I do generally agree with the USA president", he said, "We have made some major advances against terrorists in Syria, though there is a danger those groups might now infiltrate neighboring countries like Afghanistan and their countries of origin - which poses a threat to all of us in Russia, Europe, the USA and the Central Asian countries.

Let them decide, it's none of our business, or otherwise they will accuse us again if anything [happens]", he said.

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

He pointed at USA annual defence spending exceeding US$700 billion ($1,034b), comparing it with Russia's military budget of $46b ($68b).

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He had one nice things to say about the United States, however: He welcomed President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. military from Syria. The pullout is also likely to strengthen Russia's role in Syria's future.

Butina, 30, pleaded guilty last week to a conspiracy charge as part of a deal with the feds for trying to infiltrate conservative political groups in the United States.

The president dismissed spy scandals - such as the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England - as invented to damage Russia's standing. There is only one aim: "to hold back Russia's development", he said, later lamenting that relations with Britain were at a "dead end".

Putin said accusations of Russian interference in the West were trumped-up.

Putin showed no sign of backing down from Russia's stance on Ukraine, and accused his Ukrainian counterpart of provoking a naval stand-off 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. "They are shooting at their citizens which they believe are Ukrainian citizens".

President Vladimir Putin is hailing another year of Russian economic growth after a previous period of stagnation.

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.

The Russian president noted that the nation's hard currency reserves have increased from $432 billion at the start of the year to $464 billion now.

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