Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that NATO has ignored Moscow’s demand for less military activity during the coronavirus pandemic, although he boasted that Russia’s nuclear capabilities defeat any attempt to pressure his country.
During a meeting in the southern city of Sochi with the heads of his Ministry of Defense and the heads of Russia’s military-industrial complex, Putin said that Alliance flights and operations had increased during the crisis.
Russia has long complained about the build-up of NATO forces on its western borders and described exercises such as the Alliance’s maneuvers in the Barents Sea in June this year as “provocative.
As reported by the Tass news agency, Putin said on Tuesday: “The alliance has not responded at all to our proposal to reduce military activity during the pandemic. In fact, the intensity of aircraft and operations of the fleets of NATO countries has only increased”.
Putin also shared with military leaders his concern about the US approach to the potential use of nuclear weapons, which poses a risk to Russia. He said that the “American nuclear doctrine” creates the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons in response to the use of non-nuclear weapons.
“At the same time, the conditions for their use of nuclear weapons are not specified at all, and Russia is directly declared the main military opponent, which, by the way, is absolutely unfounded”, Putin said according to the Tass news agency.
However, Putin said that Russia’s nuclear capabilities on land, at sea and in the air would render useless any attempt to exert pressure on his country, and he advocated the development of new missile and flight systems for the army and navy.
He referred to the Avangard hypersonic missile system, the latest Yars-intercontinental missile complexes and the advanced nuclear-powered submarine Borei-A at the helm.
“It is the nuclear triad that remains the most important and primary guarantee of Russia’s military security and, by extension, global stability,” Putin said.
“Maintaining such a balance of power nullifies the danger of a large-scale military conflict, and even renders pointless any attempt to blackmail or pressure our country,” the president added, although he said that Russia had no intention of being “drawn into an exhausting arms race.
The Kremlin is weighing up what a new president will mean for Washington’s rapprochement with Moscow. Rumors of a NATO summit at the beginning of President-elect Joe Biden’s term in office, which would signal his commitment to the Alliance, CNBC reported.
Also in discussion with Biden will be the new Strategic Weapons Reduction Treaty (START), which limits the use of nuclear warheads and expires in February 2021.