Russian President Vladimir Putin's response to the U.S. decision to withdraw from the ABM treaty

December 13, 2001

The administration of the United States of America announced today that it is withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with six months' notice

The treaty indeed gives each party the right to withdraw under extraordinary circumstances. The U.S. leadership repeatedly has spoken about that, and this step was not a surprise for us. However, we consider it a mistake

As it is known, Russia like the United States and unlike other nuclear powers, has long had an effective system capable of penetrating missile defenses. So, with full certainty, I can say that the decision made by the President of the United States does not threaten Russia's national security.

At the same time, our country has not agreed to repeated U.S. proposals to jointly withdraw from the ABM treaty and has done all it could to preserve the treaty

I continue to believe now that such a stance is correct and well-founded. Russia first of all has proceeded from a concern for the preservation and strengthening of international legal foundations in the field of disarmament and the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction

The ABM treaty is one of the foundations of the legal system in this sphere. This system has been created by joint efforts over the last decades.

We believe that the logic of modern global developments calls for a certain logic of action.

Now, when the world has confronted new threats, we must not allow a legal vacuum in the sphere of strategic stability. We must not undermine the regime of nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

I believe that the existing level of bilateral relations must not only be preserved but used to work out a new framework of strategic relations as soon as possible.

Along with the missile defense issue, especially important in current conditions is the codification of agreements on further radical, irreversible and verifiable cuts in strategic offensive weapons to a level, which we believe should be from 1,500 to 2,200 nuclear warheads for each country.

In conclusion, I would like to note that Russia will further continue to firmly follow its principled course in world affairs, aimed at strengthening strategic stability and international security.