Xi, Putin meet in St. Petersburg

Saul Bowman
June 9, 2019

Russia will not unilaterally extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the United States, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

"There's a need to finally turn this page - linked to spies and assassination attempts", Putin told heads of global news agencies at an economic forum in Saint Petersburg.

Russia's budget is based on a price of oil at $40 a barrel, the president said, adding that at that price Moscow can replenish its gold and forex reserves.

Putin also criticized the US withdrawal from another key arms pact, the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, denying Washington's claims of Russian violations of the agreement.

Putin said he and Xi oppose the US decision to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

The Russian leader said that "if no one feels like extending the agreement. we won't do it then", after Washington failed to respond to requests for talks on renewing the Obama-era pact.

China and Russian Federation have played active roles in worldwide affairs and global governance, and made important contributions to maintaining world peace and stability as well as worldwide fairness and justice, Xi said.

"We don't have and never had any plans to interfere in USA domestic politics", Mr Putin said.

"We've said 100 times we're ready, but there aren't any negotiations", Putin said at a meeting with worldwide media executives in St. Petersburg on Thursday. "But we will be keeping our obligations in the sphere of military and technical cooperation".

Mr Putin said the United States sanctions against Venezuela hurt ordinary people, and warned Washington against using force to remove Mr Maduro.

Putin said all nuclear powers - both officially recognized as possessing nuclear weapons and not - should take part in future talks.

Putin said the potential implications of letting the New START treaty expire would be huge, suggesting its demise could fuel a nuclear arms race.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel following their meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia May 18, 2018.

But he voiced concern about the "complete dismantling of arms control mechanisms".

The latest face-to-face talks between Putin and Trump occurred in Helsinki last summer.

"If we don't keep this "fiery dragon" under control, if we let it out of the bottle - God forbid - this could lead to global catastrophe", Putin said.

"Interference in internal affairs of other countries may cause serious and sometimes tragic results", he said.The US has been pursuing a policy of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation against the Maduro government in support of Guaido.

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