Russian President Vladimir Putin held a press conference in Moscow on Friday to wrap up the year and take questions from the press, speaking on a wide range of issues including the domestic economy, Aleppo, Turkey, and the United States election.
Congratulating US President-elect Donald Trump, Putin said he looked forward to discussing the possibility of re-establishing normalised relations with the United States and invited Trump to a meeting in Moscow.
Putin also boasted of his readiness to continue developing Russia’s nuclear weapons arsenal – an interest he and President Trump appear to have in common. But he stopped short of escalating the talk to an “arms race,” which Trump has openly embraced.
“Let it be an arms race,” Trump told reporters, when asked for clarification of a Twitter post calling for an expansion of US nuclear weapons capabilities.
Minutes after Trump’s remarks were reported, his spokesperson Sean Spicer appeared on several TV interviews and said that there will “not be an arms race because other countries will come to their senses.”
At the Friday press conference in Moscow, Putin said that “in the course of his election campaign, Trump spoke about the necessity of strengthening the US nuclear arsenal. There’s nothing unusual here.”
“If anyone is unleashing an arms race it’s not us. We will never spend resources on an arms race that we can’t afford,” Putin continued.
Putin added, “Russia is a world leader in the nuclear, defence, and aviation sectors, and we will continue to be leaders in these key areas.”
“Will make every effort to deepen ties with Turkey”
Talking about the recent assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey in Ankara, Putin said the killing was an “assault” on ties between Russia and Turkey.
Talking about relations between Ankara and Moscow the Russian president said, “Frankly, I used to be skeptical about claims that our jet was shot down [in Syria in November 2015] without an order from Turkey’s top leadership but rather by people who wanted to damage Russian-Turkish ties.”
“But the attack on the ambassador by a special operations officer got me thinking: I feel now it is possible that destructive elements could have found their way into social structures, including the law enforcement and the army,” the Sputnik news website quoted him.
“Will this undermine the Russian-Turkish relationship? No, it won’t because we realise the importance of Russian-Turkish ties and will make every effort to deepen them,” Putin further said.