NATO condemns Putin’s nuclear sabre-rattling

 Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missiles on parade

Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missiles on parade

Nato has condemned Russia’s move to strengthen its nuclear arsenal, saying it amounted to “nuclear sabre-rattling” and was “unjustified” and “dangerous”.

President Vladimir Putin said Russia would put more than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles into service this year.

It is part of a wide-reaching programme to modernise the country’s military.

The move comes after the US proposed increasing its military presence in Nato states in Eastern Europe.

Tensions are high over Russia’s role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the statement from Mr Putin was “confirming the pattern and behaviour of Russia over a period of time – we have seen Russia is investing more in defence in general and in its nuclear capability in particular”.

He said: “This nuclear sabre-rattling of Russia is unjustified, it’s destabilising and it’s dangerous.

“This is something which we are addressing and it’s also one of the reasons why we now are increasing the readiness and the preparedness of our forces.”

He added that “what Nato now does in the eastern part of the alliance is something that is proportionate, that is defensive and that is fully in line with our international commitments”.

Earlier, Mr Putin said the weapons would be able to overcome even the most technically advanced anti-missile defence systems.

Nato and Western leaders accuse Russia of sending soldiers and heavy weapons, including tanks and missiles, to the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly denied this, insisting that any Russians fighting there are “volunteers”.

Russia has increased its defence spending substantially under Vladimir Putin, and is in the midst of a massive modernisation programme, says the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford in Moscow.

The missiles are hi-tech replacements, not additions to Russia’s nuclear arsenal, but the nod to the US is clear, our correspondent says.

–BBC

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