Putin issues ominous warning on rising nuclear war threat

Do you believe it's OUR goal? Putin says he knows ‘very well’ who seeks to rule the world

In the wide ranging news conference on Thursday, Mr Putin said he "understood" Prime Minister Theresa May's position and recognised that Russian Federation could be affected by the economic fallout following Britain's exit from the European Union. He also cited the unsafe tendency of lowering the threshold for using nuclear weapons and the idea of using ballistic missiles with conventional warheads.

"They need an external threat to cement North Atlantic Treaty Organisation unity", Putin said, accusing the USA and its allies of exploiting "phobias of the past" to achieve domestic political goals.

Putin said at an annual news conference summing up the results of the year that Russia's gross domestic product is set to grow by 1.8 percent this year, while industrial output has grown faster at 3 percent.

"We are essentially witnessing the breakdown of the global arms control order and (the start of) an arms race", he said.

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

The annual event, Putin's 14th of its kind, is used by the Russian leader to burnish his leadership credentials and send messages to foreign allies and foes.

"There is a trend of lowering the threshold" of using nuclear weapons, Putin said. "Of course, we'll have to ensure our own security".

Amid a litany of complaints over Washington's policies, Putin had one nice thing to say about the United States: He welcomed Trump's decision to withdraw the USA military from Syria.

Butina pleaded guilty last Thursday in front of a U.S. federal judge to one count of conspiracy to act as a foreign agent.

Russian Federation does not aim to rule the world, and such assumptions are part of an "imposed mentality" used to distract people, Vladimir Putin told a WSJ reporter when asked about Russia's supposed ambitions for world domination.

Her case is a vivid "part of a larger mosaic of Russian influence operations" laid out in part by special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference, former Justice Department officials David Laufman told The Washington Post last week. He accused his Ukrainian counterpart of provoking a naval standoff with Russian Federation to boost his electoral prospects.

The U.S. "has done the right thing", Putin said, reaffirming the long-held Russian argument that the U.S. presence in Syria is illegitimate because it wasn't vetted by the U.N. Security Council or approved by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government. 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.

President Vladimir Putin says that a Russian woman in custody in the United States who has pleaded guilty to acting as a covert agent of the Russian government hasn't carried out any government missions.

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").

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.

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