Moscow - Putin scoffed at Western claims he wants to dominate the world.
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a chilling warning on Thursday about the rising threat of a nuclear war, saying "it could lead to the destruction of civilization as a whole and maybe even our planet" - and putting the blame squarely on the US.
Speaking at his annual news conference, Putin scoffed at Western claims he wants to dominate the world and said Western countries are antagonising Russia for their own domestic reasons, and at their own peril. He dismissed claims of Russian interference abroad, from a nerve agent poisoning in Britain to an alleged effort to infiltrate the US National Rifle Association.
Instead he sought to paint himself as the world's protector. Pointing at the US intention to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, Treaty, Putin warned that if the US puts intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to take countermeasures.
"We are witnessing the breakup of the arms control system," Putin said, noting the US plan to opt out of the INF Treaty and its reluctance to negotiate the extension of the New Start (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement.