MOSCOWÂ – President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russia would not allow itself to be drawn into what he called a new arms race.
“It is already clear that a new arms race is being unleashed in the world,” Putin said.
“We must not allow ourselves to be drawn into this,” he said in a speech to the State Council, which gathered ministers, governors and members of parliament.
Putin has raised military spending during his eight-year presidency and approved large-scale military exercises, while criticizing what he says is NATO’s “muscle-flexing” on Russia’s borders and a planned U.S. missile defense shield.
“It’s not our fault, we didn’t start it. … funneling multi-billions of dollars into developing weapons systems.”
“NATO itself is expanding. It’s approaching our borders.
“We drew down our bases in Cuba and in Vietnam. What did we get? New American bases in Romania, Bulgaria. A new third missile defense region in Poland, where it’s being built,” Putin said.
Russia’s ties with NATO have been strained by concerns about Washington’s plans to station the defense shield in Europe, Moscow’s suspension of a landmark arms treaty and disagreements over the future of Kosovo.