US triggered arms race, we wish higher ties: Putin

Moscow, December 17

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday blamed the US for starting a new arms race, saying Moscow had been forced to develop hypersonic weapons in response.

Responding to a question, Putin told his annual news conference, “It happened already, and this is obvious.”

Putin also said that media reports that Russian security agents had poisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny were part of a US-backed plot to try to discredit him, saying Navalny was not important enough to be a target.

Undecided on 2024 poll

  • Putin says hasn’t decided yet if he will run again for presidency in 2024
  • He also denies charge regarding Russian hackers meddling in the 2016 US presidential vote
  • Says Russia has been forced to develop hypersonic weapons in response to US ‘provocation’

Laboratory tests in three European countries, confirmed by the global chemical weapons watchdog, established he was poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent but Russia denies this and says it has yet to be shown any evidence.

Citing flight records and mobile phone geolocation data, investigative website Bellingcat and Russian media outlet The Insider published results of a joint investigation on Monday carried out in cooperation with Der Spiegel and CNN.

The investigation said it had identified a team of assassins from Russia’s FSB security service, who had stalked him for years. It named the intelligence officers and poison laboratories it said were behind the operation. Putin, during his annual news conference, dismissed the investigation, saying it was made up of information provided by US intelligence services.

He also said he hadn’t decided yet if he would run again for presidency in 2024.

He also said that he hoped US President-elect Joe Biden would improve ties with Russia. He exhorted that Russian hackers had not meddled in the 2016 US presidential vote to help Donald Trump get elected. — Reuters

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