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Putin says Russia not interested in arms race, Trump's nuke comment 'nothing new'

By Andrew V. Pestano
Putin says Russia not interested in arms race, Trump's nuke comment 'nothing new'
Russian President Vladimir Putin, seen here delivering his annual address to the Federal Assembly at the Kremlin in Moscow on December 1, on Friday said Russia was not interested in starting an arms race or creating more nuclear warheads. His comment follow U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's Twitter proposal to expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Photo by Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/Kremlin/European Pressphoto Agency

MOSCOW, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said Donald Trump's comment seeking to expand U.S. nuclear capabilities is "nothing new" because the U.S. president-elect made the proposal during the election.

Putin responded to Trump's Thursday-night tweet during his year-end, hours-long press conference.

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"Of course the U.S. has more missiles, submarines and aircraft carriers, but what we say is that we are stronger than any aggressor, and this is the case," Putin said. "As for Donald Trump, there is nothing new about it, during his election campaign he said the U.S. needs to bolster its nuclear capabilities and its armed forces in general."

Putin said Russia was not seeking to create more nuclear warheads or to enter a Cold War-era arms race. He said Russia was working to improve current armament to the point it could pierce through missile defense systems.

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Putin's comment follows Trump's proposal -- via Twitter -- that the United States "must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."

Advocating the expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal counters what U.S. presidents have worked to accomplish for the last five decades -- beginning with the SALT I treaty in 1972 under former President Richard Nixon and culminating with President Barack Obama's New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty less than six years ago.

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"Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all," MSNBC's Morning Joe anchor Mika Brzezinski quoted Trump as saying when she attempted to clarify his tweet.

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