Vladimir Putin has vowed to cut Russia’s military spending and insists he is not interested in an ‘arms race’ – weeks after unveiling his new ‘invincible’ nuclear weapons.
The Russian President, who has secured another six years in power after a record election win, also said he wanted to use diplomatic channels to settle differences with the West.
He is planning to decrease defence spending ‘both this year and next’ – a move he insisted would not diminish the Kremlin’s military capacity.
Vladimir Putin (pictured today) has vowed to cut Russia’s military spending and insists he is not interested in an ‘arms race’ – weeks after unveiling his new ‘invincible’ nuclear weapons
The Russian President, who has secured another six years in power after a record election win, said he wanted to use diplomatic channels to settle differences with the West
Putin said: ‘We have plans to decrease our defence spending both this year and next. But this will not lead to any decline in the country’s defence capacity,’ he said during a meeting with other candidates.
‘We will not allow for any sort of arms race,’ he said.
Putin appeared to set the course for exactly that when he unveiled a new generation of ‘invincible’ nuclear weapons during a state of the nation address earlier this month.
He presented Russia’s military efforts as a response to recent actions by the United States, which last month unveiled plans to revamp its nuclear arsenal and develop new low-yield atomic weapons.
The announcement came as relations between the global powers plummeted to levels not seen since the Cold War over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, and accusations that Moscow interfered in the US presidential election in 2016.
Putin appeared to set the course for an arms race when he unveiled a new generation of ‘invincible’ nuclear weapons during a state of the nation address earlier this month
He presented Russia’s military efforts as a response to recent actions by the United States, which last month unveiled plans to revamp its nuclear arsenal and develop new low-yield atomic weapons
Since then, London has accused Moscow of being behind the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal on British soil, leading to tit-for-tat diplomat expulsions.
On Monday, Putin insisted Moscow would use diplomatic channels to settle differences ‘with our partners’ in an apparent reference to the West.
‘From our side, we will do all we can so that the arguments with our (international) partners be resolved by political and diplomatic means,’ he said.
‘It goes without saying that not everything depends on us – as with love, both sides have to be involved, otherwise there can be no love at all,’ he said.
International leaders were slow to congratulate Putin today after his election victory amid a new spike in tensions, as opponents accused him of vote rigging.
Putin, who has ruled Russia for almost two decades, recorded his best-ever election performance with 76.66 per cent of the vote but appeared to reject the possibility of staying in power indefinitely.
Opposition and independent monitors reported ballot stuffing and other cases of alleged fraud as the Kremlin pushed for a high turnout to give greater legitimacy to Putin’s historic fourth term.
But fewer irregularities were reported than in previous years, with an OSCE observer mission saying that although the election was marred by a lack of ‘genuine competition’, it was generally well conducted.
Putin’s supporters said Western pressure on the Russian leader, including British allegations of his involvement in a spy poisoning row and an Olympic doping ban, had prompted people to close ranks behind him.
But Putin, who is already Russia’s longest-serving leader since Joseph Stalin and is now set to rule until at least 2024, ruled out any question of remaining president for life.
‘What, am I going to sit here until I am 100 years old? No,’ he told reporters late on Sunday when asked if he would run again in 2030.
The Russian strongman ran against seven candidates, but his most vocal opponent Alexei Navalny was barred from the ballot for legal reasons, and the final outcome was never in doubt.
‘I see in this (result) the confidence and hope of our people,’ a beaming Putin told supporters who had gathered in a square next to the Kremlin on Sunday.
Putin’s campaign spokesman Andrei Kondrashov said that turnout, which was above 67 per cent, was 8 to 10 percentage points higher than expected, saying it was ‘thanks to Britain.’
‘Several foreign leaders – I won’t say their names – made their contribution,’ said Central Election Commission head Ella Pamfilova.
‘Our people always unite in the trying hour.’
In Crimea, which was annexed from Ukraine exactly four years ago on Sunday, Putin won more than 92 per cent of the vote.
Most of the voters AFP spoke to said they had backed Putin despite Russia’s problems of poverty and poor healthcare, praising his foreign policies.
Moscow faces increasing global isolation over its interventions in Ukraine and in Syria, and a fresh round of US sanctions over alleged Russian election meddling in 2016.