In this image from video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry, the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile blasts off during a test launch from the Plesetsk launch pad in northwestern Russia, March 30, 2018.
MOSCOW, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Russia is not willing to get dragged into a new arms race but it must ensure its security, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera published Thursday.
According to the interview posted on the Kremlin website, Putin said the United States had a military budget of more than 700 billion U.S. dollars, compared with Russia's roughly 48 billion dollars.
"That is why we had to develop advanced weapons and equipment -- in response to the increasing military expenditure and the clearly destructive actions of the United States," said the president.
Putin said it was not Russia but the United States that started the breakdown of the international security system by unilaterally withdrawing in 2002 from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the cornerstone of the entire arms control architecture.
Russia approached the United States more than once, suggesting that both sides sort out issues concerning the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, but was refused, he said.
Washington does not seem ready to discuss the extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that will expire in early 2021 or the possibility of elaborating a new full-scale agreement, the Russian president said.
"Last October, we offered the United States to adopt a joint statement on the inadmissibility of a nuclear war and the recognition of its devastating consequences. There has been no response," Putin said.
The U.S. administration has recently begun to reflect on the possibility of restarting dialogue with Russia on a broad strategic agenda, and reaching concrete agreements in the field of arms control would help improve international stability, he said.
"Russia has the political will to do this. Now it is for the United States to make a decision," Putin said, adding that he reiterated this position at a recent meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Osaka, Japan.