Russia’s Putin blames Washington for starting new arms race

© Reuters/SPUTNIK Russian President Vladimir Putin attends his annual end-of-year news conference outside Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday blamed the United States for starting a new arms race, saying Moscow had been forced to develop hypersonic weapons in response.

Responding to a question about the risk of a new arms race, Putin told his annual news conference: “It happened already, and this is obvious.”

Putin earlier urged Washington to agree a one-year extension of the New START treaty, the last remaining agreement maintaining the nuclear balance between the two countries, which expires in February.

He said he believed U.S. President-elect Joe Biden was open to dialogue on the issue, but “we need some reaction from our American partners”.

The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) accord, signed in 2010, limits the numbers of strategic nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers that Russia and the United States can deploy.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)