Putin to Trump: Russia is ready for dialogue

Russian President Vladimir Putin told US counterpart Donald Trump that his country is ready for dialogue on a "wide-ranging agenda".
Russian President Vladimir Putin told US counterpart Donald Trump that his country is ready for dialogue on a "wide-ranging agenda".PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, AFP

MOSCOW • Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a New Year letter to his US counterpart, Mr Donald Trump, said yesterday that Moscow was ready for dialogue on a "wide-ranging agenda", the Kremlin said.

"Vladimir Putin stressed that the (Russia-US) relations are the most important factor for providing strategic stability and international security," a Kremlin statement said.

"He confirmed that Russia is open for dialogue with the US on the most wide-ranging agenda."

In a separate letter to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Mr Putin pledged the continuation of aid to the Syrian government and people in the "fight against terrorism, in defence of state sovereignty and territorial integrity".

Mr Putin also sent New Year greetings to other world leaders, including prime ministers Theresa May of Britain and Shinzo Abe of Japan, as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Meanwhile, Russia will next year deploy the S-350 Vityaz new-generation short-to mid-range surface-to-air defence missile complex, the Russian defence ministry said yesterday, in a long-planned move to replace its ageing S-300 system.

The ministry also said that the Russian military had deployed Pantsir-S and S-400 complexes this year in Crimea, annexed from Ukraine in 2014, as well as in its Arctic region, the Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea, and in its eastern-most Khabarovsk region.

 
 
 

Russia has been flexing its military muscles abroad in recent years, and its involvement in the Syrian conflict and Ukraine has soured relations with the West.

In a dispute over a separate, longer-range missile system, Washington has threatened to pull out of the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty , alleging that a new Russian missile, the Novator 9M729 (called SSC-8 by Nato), violates the pact.

The landmark arms control treaty bans either side from stationing short-and intermediate-range, land-based missiles in Europe.

Russia denies that the missile violates the INF Treaty and accuses the United States of inventing a false pretext to exit the treaty in order to develop new missiles.

Mr Putin said last Wednesday that Russia would deploy its first regiment of hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles next year, saying that the move meant his country now had a new type of strategic weapon. Vityaz (Knight) is a short-to mid-range surface-to-air defence missile system developed by Almaz-Antey Air and Space Defence Corporation.

The Kremlin said in March that Russia would cut its defence budget to less than 3 per cent of the gross domestic product within the next five years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2018, with the headline 'Putin to Trump: Russia is ready for dialogue'. Print Edition | Subscribe