Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in an interview released Dec. 1 that Russia might be forced to build up its nuclear forces against the West if the United States fails to ratify a new arms reduction pact reached earlier this year.
The warning came on the heels of President Dmitry Medvedev's Nov. 30 statement that failure to develop a joint European missile shield with NATO could create an arms race in the next decade and force the Russian military to deploy new offensive weapons near the borders of the security bloc.
If the U.S. Senate fails to ratify the New START treaty that Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama signed in April, Russia will have to start adding weapons, Putin said.
"That's not our choice. We don't want that to happen. But this is not a threat on our part," Putin said, according to an excerpt of an interview with CNN's Larry King, recorded Nov. 30 and posted on the CNN website Dec.1. "We've been simply saying that this is what we all expect to happen if we don't agree on a joint effort there."
The prime minister said in the new interview that the treaty, which is being stalled by several senior Republican senators, is in the United States' best interests and that ignoring it would be "very dumb."
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., a member of the Foreign Relation Committee, said Nov. 30 that the White House had done a "good job" easing some of his concerns on the treaty and that a deal could be reached by the end of the year.
Russian officials say that the Russian parliament will ratify the treaty simultaneously with the U.S. lawmakers.