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Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that Moscow has 'caught up with US missile capabilities' and will respond if America quits a landmark Cold War nuclear treaty.
Speaking to international policy experts at the Valdai forum in Sochi, Putin said Russia will respond immediately and symmetrically if the United States quits the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
U.S. officials have accused Russia of developing missiles in violation of the treaty, a charge Russia has denied.
The 1987 agreement, signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, was designed to see the mutual elimination of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers between the two countries.
Putin said the accord was tilted in the US's favor, effectively amounting to 'unilateral disarmament,' as it failed to ban missiles carried by navy ships and aircraft that the US had and the Soviet Union didn't.
He said Russia has since developed such cruise missiles for its navy and air force.
Moscow is also ready to develop new weapons systems, both nuclear and non-nuclear, in response to other countries doing the same, Putin said at the forum with scholars.
The Russian leader condemned North Korea's nuclear tests but insisted the crisis around the Korean peninsula should be resolved through dialogue.
'We condemn the nuclear tests carried out by North Korea,' Putin said.
'But it is absolutely necessary to resolve this problem through dialogue and not drive North Korea into a corner, threatening it with the use of force, and not to fall into outright insolence.' Putin criticized the US and its allies for 'missing a chance to build a safer and more stable world after the Cold War'.
The Russian leader also said the US has been slow to dismantle its chemical weapons arsenals in line with an international treaty, while Russia last month wrapped up the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpiles.
This comes at a time of heightened hostility between Russia and the US.
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