President Putin says West trying to 'hold back' powerful Russian Federation


Washington has threatened to pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) which bans Moscow and Washington from stationing short- and intermediate-range, land-based missiles in Europe.

Russian Federation said on Wednesday it would not let the United States inspect a new nuclear-capable cruise missile at the heart of a dispute between Washington and Moscow that risks unravelling a landmark arms control treaty.

Putin has previously said that Russian Federation would be forced to train its own missiles on any European countries that host US rockets. Are the Americans not interested, do they not need them? This trend "could lead to a global nuclear catastrophe", he said. The U.S. has said it has no plans to deploy new missiles after pulling out of the INF treaty.

The Russian leader added that even though a nuclear conflict now seems impossible to most, the danger is close and real.

However, Russia said on Wednesday it had no intention of letting USA inspectors look at the missile, which it said had not been tested at the longer range that Washington alleges.

US Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats said on November 30 that Russian Federation has already deployed multiple battalions of 9M729 missiles and that they posed a direct threat to most of Europe and parts of Asia.

"We know how to ensure our safety", Putin said, "we can do that". He pointed at U.S. annual defense spending exceeding $700 billion, comparing it with Russia's military budget of $46 billion.

He insisted that a Russian woman in USA custody has not carried out any mission for the Russian government, even though she pleaded guilty earlier this month to acting as a covert agent of the government.

The UK is one of a number of Western countries that have enacted economic sanctions against Russia over its annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea and the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in southern England.

Putin, who was addressing more than 1,000 reporters from around the world, many of them holding up signs to attract his attention, faced a tougher task defending his domestic record.

Putin said accusations of Russian interference in the West were trumped-up.

Putin pledged that the government will create incentives to speed up growth. The Russian coast guard fired upon and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and 24 seamen when they tried to sail from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov in what the US and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies condemned as unjustified use of force by Russia.

On the Russian economy, Putin hailed another year of growth after a previous period of stagnation.

Russia's gross domestic product is set to grow by 1.8 per cent this year, while industrial output has grown faster at 3 per cent, he said.

The Russian president noted that the nation's hard currency reserves have increased from US$432b ($638b) at the start of the year to $US464b ($685b) now. Full-year growth is estimated at 1.8 percent.