The Russian President held his 14th annual end-of-the-year press conference on Thursday morning, touching upon a wide array of issues, including relations with the US and Ukraine, anti-Russia sanctions, and arms control. He was also questioned about the Russia’s economy and Donald Trump’s commitment to withdraw troops from Syria.
But it is his comments on nuclear war that will make most people feel uncomfortable. He said:
“If, God forbid, something like that nuclear war were to happen, it would lead to the end of all civilization and maybe also the planet. These are serious questions and it’s a real shame that there’s a tendency to underestimate them. It is a legitimate issue, and it is even growing.”
Putin also said that Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw from the U.S.-Russia Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) has made the entire world less safe.
“We are essentially witnessing the breakdown of the international order of arms control,” the Russian president said. He also expressed his belief that the consequences of the decision by the United States to withdraw from the INF Treaty were “unpredictable” and could lead to a “global catastrophe.”
Earlier this month United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. government would suspend its obligations under the 1987 INF Treaty within 60 days if Russia didn’t return to what it called “full compliance.”
Putin and other Russian government officials have said repeatedly that the U.S. accusations that Russia has violated the INF Treaty were baseless.
Asked to address Donald Trump’s announcement that all 2,000 US troops would leave Syria, Putin said that he was not sure of the terms of the withdrawal. He expressed skepticism, saying that the US has maintained its presence in Afghanistan for over 17 years despite saying many times that it was pulling its troops out of the country.
However, he also praised Trump’s move to withdraw from Syria, saying the U.S. presence there is “illegitimate.”
When asked by a U.S. reporter what he thought of the decision by Trump, Putin responded: “Donald is right and I agree with him.”
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.