MOSCOW (AP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that there is no need for a military alliance between Russia and China now, but noted that it could be established in the future.
Putin’s statement signaled a deepening of ties between Moscow and Beijing amid growing tensions with the United States. The Russian leader also urged the expansion of the last remaining arms control pact between Moscow and Washington.
Asked during a video conference with international foreign policy experts on Thursday whether a military alliance between Moscow and Beijing was possible, Putin said “we don̵
Russia and China have welcomed their “strategic partnership” but have so far rejected any talks on the possibility of a military alliance.
Putin cited the war games between the Chinese and Russian armed forces as a signal of the countries’ thriving military cooperation.
Putin also noted that Russia has shared sensitive military technologies that have helped significantly increase China’s military capabilities, but did not mention any specifics, saying the information is sensitive.
“Without a doubt, our cooperation with China strengthens the Chinese army’s defense capabilities,” he said, adding that the future could see even closer military ties between the two countries.
“Time will tell how it will develop,” the Russian president said, adding that “we will not rule it out.”
Russia seeks to develop stronger ties with China as its relations with the West sink to post-Cold War levels over Moscow’s annexation of Ukrainian Crimea, accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and other rifts.
On Thursday, Putin stressed the importance of extending the new START treaty, which expires in February, Russia’s latest arms control pact with the United States.
Earlier this week, the United States and Russia signaled they were ready to accept compromises to save the new START treaty just two weeks before the US presidential election, in which President Donald Trump faces a strong challenge from former Vice President Joe Biden, whose campaign he blames. Trump that he is soft with Russia.
The new START was signed in 2010 by then-US President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The pact limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 missiles and bombers deployed, and provides for extensive on-site inspections to verify compliance.
Russia had offered to extend the pact unconditionally, while the Trump administration initially insisted that it could be renewed only if China agreed to join. China declined to consider the idea. The United States recently modified its position and proposed a one-year extension of the treaty, but said this should be combined with the imposition of a wider limit on nuclear warheads.
The Kremlin initially opposed Washington’s request, but its position changed this week, with the Russian Foreign Ministry saying Moscow could accept a warhead freeze if the United States agreed not to make further demands.
Putin did not address the issue of freezing warheads, but stressed the importance of saving the New START.
“The question is whether to keep the existing treaty as it is, to start a detailed discussion and try to reach a compromise for a year, or to lose this treaty altogether, leaving ourselves, Russia and the United States, along with the rest of the world, without an agreement. limiting the arms race, “he said. “I believe the second option is much worse.”
At the same time, he added that Russia “has not adhered to the treaty” and will guarantee its security without it. He noted Russia’s perceived advantage in supersonic weapons and indicated its readiness to include them in a future pact.
“If our partners decide they don’t need them, so be it, we can’t stop them,” he said. “Russia’s security will not be compromised, especially because we have state-of-the-art weapons systems.”
Despite indications earlier this week that Russia and the United States are joining the New START deal, Russia’s chief negotiator said there were still “dramatic” differences and strongly warned Washington not to make new demands.
Sergei Ryabkov warned the United States not to insist on their request for more intrusive control measures such as those that existed in the 1990s and are not provided for in the new START. The diplomat said the new control mechanisms could be discussed as part of a future deal, firmly saying Russia would not accept the request, which is “legitimate espionage”.
“If for some reason it does not suit the United States, then there will be no deal,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Interfax.