MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested Tuesday he was open to the idea of other countries joining a key Cold War treaty limiting mid-range nuclear arms or to starting talks on a new agreement.
The president spoke after Washington this month said it would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) within 60 days if Russia did not dismantle missiles that the US claims breach the deal.
At a defence ministry meeting, Putin repeated accusations that Washington had itself violated the bilateral treaty and suggested other countries join the US-Russia agreement in a bid to salvage it.
Signed in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the treaty puts no restrictions on other major military actors like China.
"Yes, indeed there are certain difficulties with this treaty," Putin said.
"Other countries possessing short- and intermediate-range missiles are not party to it.
"But what prevents (us) from starting talks on their accession to the existing treaty or starting negotiating the parameters of a new treaty?" he said.
He reiterated the threat that Russia would have to retaliate if the United States ditched the treaty.
"Whatever the complaints about the treaty, in current conditions it plays a stabilising role, works to support a certain level of predictability and restraint in the military sphere."
This month Putin said about a dozen countries were probably producing mid-range missiles of the type banned by the INF treaty.