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Putin: Russia 'remains open' for arms talks with U.S.

Posted at 3:56 AM, Feb 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-20 06:56:23-05

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Latest on Putin's state-of-the-nation speech (all times local):

2:15 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says Russia wants friendly relations with the United States and remains open for arms control talks with Washington.

Putin, speaking in Wednesday's state-of-the-nation address, said Moscow hopes to mend ties with the U.S., adding that "we don't want confrontation, particularly with such a global power as the U.S."

At the same time, he criticized what he described as "destructive" U.S. policy of targeting Russia with sanctions.

He added that Russia will be ready to engage in nuclear arms control talks with the U.S. when Washington is ready for that, but said Moscow will not initiate such negotiations.

Putin urged U.S. officials to take into account the "range and speed of our prospective weapons" before making decisions that will threaten Russia.

2 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says Russia will deploy a new hypersonic missile for its navy as part of an ongoing plan to modernize its military capabilities and efforts to counter what he described as hostile U.S. moves.

Speaking in the state-of-the-nation address Wednesday, Putin said the new Zircon missile will fly at nine times of the speed of sound and have a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles).

He added that the missile is designed to equip existing surface ships and submarines.

He added that other new weapons he announced last year, including the nuclear-powered Burevestnik cruise missile and the Poseidon nuclear-powered underwater drone, have been undergoing tests successfully.

1:50 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says Russia will target new weapons at the United States should it deploy new intermediate-range missiles in Europe following Washington's withdrawal from a key arms control pact.

Putin, speaking in Wednesday's state-of-the-nation address, rejected the U.S. claim that its withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty was prompted by Russian violations of the pact. He charged that the U.S. made false accusations against Russia to justify its decision to opt out of the pact.

Putin reaffirmed that Russia will not be the first to deploy new intermediate-range missiles in Europe, but warned that it will retaliate if the U.S. puts such missiles on the continent. He said it will not only target the host countries, but field new weapons that will target U.S. decision-making centers.

12:30 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says in a state-of-the-nation address that Russia needs to focus on raising living standards.

Speaking on Wednesday before lawmakers and top officials, Putin said the government will increase social payments to support young families. He promised tax breaks, lower mortgage rates and housing subsidies for families with several children.

He said that the tax burden on developers will be eased to encourage them to expand housing construction.

Putin also emphasized the need to combat poverty, saying that 19 million of Russia's approximately 147 million people live below the official poverty line, currently the equivalent of around 160 dollars a month.