Putin: Nuke war threat should not be underestimated

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

"If that happens, it could lead to the destruction of civilization as a whole and maybe even our planet", he said.

Russian Federation and Japan have been in dispute for seven decades over island territories captured by Soviet troops in the last days of World War II.

"There is a trend of lowering the threshold" of using nuclear weapons, Putin said.

Putin also pointed out the Japanese government is building an alternative base for the USA air station Futenma, now located in central Okinawa, in the Henoko district of Nago, further north, despite strong opposition from local residents and Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki.

But though Putin criticized Washington, he made clear that he still hoped to meet Trump sometime soon, saying it was important the two leaders discussed issues such as arms control.

Russia-U.S. ties have sunk to their lowest levels since the Cold war times over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, among other disputes.

Speaking at his annual news conference, Putin scoffed at Western claims he wants to dominate the world and said Western countries are antagonizing Russian Federation for their own domestic reasons, and at their own peril.

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"We have an agreement from 2003", he said, becoming perhaps the first Russian official since the incident to mention the formal agreement between Russia and Ukraine declaring the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters.

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russian Federation could easily make and deploy land-based intermediate-range missiles if the United States made good on a threat to quit a landmark nuclear arms control treaty.

He had one nice things to say about the United States, however: He welcomed President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. military from Syria. The pullout is also likely to strengthen Russia's role in Syria's future.

Putin also lamented the lack of negotiations on extending the New START Treaty, which expires in 2021, and again warned that Russian Federation will do whatever is needed to ensure its national security in the face of future American nuclear developments - specifically singling out calls for tactical nuclear weapons and non-nuclear ballistic missiles.

"You aren't interested, you don't need it?"

As in past years, Putin was asked about his health (he said he's feeling fine) and the possibility he might remarry ("As a decent person, I will have to do that sometime"). Signed by then Soviet Union Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan in 1987, the agreement is deterrent in nature and was largely created to prevent prospects of a full-scale nuclear war in Europe. He accused his Ukrainian counterpart of provoking a naval standoff with Russian Federation to boost his electoral prospects.

"It's hard to imagine what is going to happen next if those missiles would be positioned in Europe, what are we doing to do?"

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