Russian President Vladimir Putin said that nuclear stability had 'worsened' due to the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019, while speaking at the plenary session of the 16th meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi on Thursday.
Putin was asked by a reporter to comment on remarks he made the previous year, saying «One year ago we were sitting here on... Еще the stage together and you said a very vivid expression, that the aggressors will die and we will go to heaven in case of nuclear aggression. So, have we come closer to heaven this year?»
Putin responded by saying «we are all always equally close to the God and he will determine where we are after the end of our earthly path. But the situation did not get better, of course. It worsened due to the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty.»
The Russian president also mentioned the US testing a ground-based missile banned under the INF treaty after its recent withdrawal, saying «they [the USA] announced that the Aegis systems were used to launch those medium-range missiles. At least they could make a bigger pause [after withdrawal from the INF treaty], it is clear that we were deceived, they tried to deceive us, and now they just admitted it.»
Commenting on a question as to why the internal structures of France's government reportedly hamper its relations with Russia, Putin responded by saying «So who is the president of France — me or Macron?» and added «if someone obstructs him from subordinates, put them where they belong or replace them. And then bring your supporters and like-minded people to the administration. And everything will work as a single team with a high result.»
The session was also attended by Jordanian King Abdullah IIbin Al-Hussein, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
The 16th annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club kicked off in Sochi on September 30. This year's event gathers together high-level officials and experts from around the globe for discussions under the theme 'The Dawn of the East and the World Political Order.'