Delivering a speech on the state of the nation on Wednesday, Putin explained how Russia would react to a possible deployment of US intermediate-range missiles in Europe, which will be made possible by Washington’s imminent withdrawal from the INF Treaty, RT reported.
He stressed the countermeasures planned by Russia should not be mistaken for an act of aggression.
“They call Russia pretty much the biggest threat to the US. I can tell it straight – that is not true. Russia wants a fulfilling equal and friendly relationship with the United States. Russia is not threatening anyone. All our actions in the security sphere are responsive and defensive in nature,” Putin added.
The Russian president accused part of the US leadership for deteriorating relations, saying those people ignored Russia’s security concerns to pursue their own geopolitical goals.
"The people we deal with are energetic and very talented. Yet, the American ruling class has too many people obsessed with the idea of exceptionalism, superiority over the rest of the world. It’s their right to think what they want," Putin stated.
“But can they count? I bet they can. So, let them count the range and speed of our advanced weapon systems, that’s all we ask for. Let them count first and only then take decisions, which would pose additional and significant threats to our country,” Putin said.
He stressed that Moscow is not seeking confrontation and is open to reducing its nuclear arsenal, as long as it finds in Washington a proper partner to negotiate with.
“We are prepared to negotiate on nuclear reduction, but we will no longer bang on a locked door. We will wait till our partners are ready, until they realize the need for a dialogue of equals on this issue,” he added.
"We need peace for a long-term sustained development. All our work on increasing our defense has only one goal – to ensure the safety of our nation and our people. To make sure that nobody would even think about aggression against Russia, or even to attempt to use military force to pressure our country," the Russia's leader noted.
The keynote speech delivered by Putin on Wednesday was an annual address to the Federal Assembly, which is both chambers of the Russian parliament collectively. Scrapping of the INF Treaty was the biggest foreign relations issue mentioned by Putin.
He warned Russia will develop and deploy its own missiles of the kind banned by the treaty, if the US places its projectiles in Europe, as was the case during the height of Cold War.
Putin announced that not only the missile launch sites, but also the command-and-control centers, from which an order to launch them can come, will be considered a legitimate target by Moscow.