Russian president Vladimir Putin has dismissed Donald Trump’s apparent plans to expand America’s nuclear arsenal, adding that “nobody is arguing” with the idea that America has the strongest military in the world.
Responding to questions about Trump’s nuclear policy at an international media conference in Moscow, Putin said that he was “a bit surprised by the statements from some representatives of the current U.S. administration who for some reason started to prove that the U.S. military was the most powerful in the world.”
Putin had said on Thursday that Russia “will always be stronger than any potential aggressor.” Trump later responded to the claim on Twitter, saying that “United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016
Putin today appeared to reject the notion of a potential arms race with the United States, saying that “in the course of his election campaign Trump spoke about the necessity of strengthening the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and strengthening the armed forces. 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,” he continued.
While some in media saw the potential of rivalry between Trump and Putin, noting that Putin had called for Russia to “strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces” the day before Trump’s tweet, those representing the incoming administration differed on this point. “I think the president-elect is very clear that he’s going to be very active in putting America’s security first and foremost and if another country wants to threaten our sovereignty or our safety he will act,” incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told CNN.
As a candidate, Trump said he “hated [nuclear] proliferation,” but “I would rather see Japan having some form of defense, and maybe even offense against North Korea,” and that Japan and South Korea would likely acquire nuclear weapons eventually: “it’s going to happen anyway.”
While Japan and South Korea did not respond with any enthusiasm over acquiring such weapons, the government of China – long in the crosshairs of candidate Trump – has hinted at a desire to increase its nuclear arsenal, as well. The Chinese state-run propaganda outlet the Global Times urged the Chinese government to increase its nuclear capabilities in response to Trump’s election earlier this month.
“China won’t pay into Trump’s protection racket. It should use the money to build more strategic nuclear arms and accelerate the deployment of the DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile. China’s military spending in 2017 should be augmented significantly,” a column in the Times read.