Russia is developing new ‘hypersonic’ weapons, I blame US for starting arms race – Vladimir Putin says

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told his annual news conference that Russia is developing new “hypersonic weapons” in response to a new arms race, which he says was triggered by the US.

The Russian leader wants the US to agree to a one-year extension of the START treaty, which maintains a nuclear balance between the two nations and expires in February.

Mr Putin added that he believed US president-elect Joe Biden was open to talking about negotiations on the issue, but wanted more cooperation with Washington.

Speaking earlier, the Russian leader said the president-elect could help resolve “difficult issues” between Moscow and Washington.

As part of his wide-ranging annual news conference, he denied long-running claims that Russia meddled in the 2016 US election in an effort to put Mr Trump in the White House.

Mr Putin has long been accused of helping get Mr Trump elected in the US, but told reporters that state hackers had nothing to do with the election.

In a wide-ranging conference, Mr Putin also touched on the coronavirus pandemic and answered questions on poisoned government critic Alexei Navalny.

Russia claimed it was the first country in the world to give the green light to a coronavirus
vaccine , with its Moscow-developed Sputnik V jab.

Mr Putin told reporters that he has not yet been vaccinated with Sputnik V, but that around 70 million citizens have been.

Translated into English, he said: “Vaccines that are now available for citizens… of a specific age. The vaccines are not yet eligible for people like me.

“I repeat that I’m a law-abiding citizen and I’m listening to recommendations from our specialists. That’s why I haven’t yet, as specialists say, inoculated this vaccine. But I will certainly do this when it becomes possible.”

It was also revealed that Russia does not yet have the equipment to mass produce its
COVID – 19 vaccine, and says it needs time to increase production capacity.

On Mr Navalny, Mr Putin said that a media investigation into the attack that placed blame on state-sponsored assassins was a “trick” to attack Russian officials.

He also played down Mr Navalny’s importance, saying if somebody had wanted to poison him, they would have “finished the job”.

Vladimir Putin’s annual news conference often lasts for hours, and is one of the only ways reporters, who are usually from state-approved outlets, get to ask questions.

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