Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West on Thursday that the world is heading for a "very dangerous" situation if some important arms control agreements are not maintained. "Unfortunately there is a tendency to underestimate the possibility of a nuclear war, and that trend is even growing," Putin said at his traditional end-of-year news conference. The Russian president accused the United States of raising the risk of nuclear shock with his decision to abandon the crucial bilateral short- and medium-range nuclear arms control treaty, adding that Washington appears to have little interest in extending another major strategic pact. This, warned the Russian leader, leads the planet to "a precipice".
 "We are witnessing the disintegration of the arms control system," Putin said. "And there is a tendency to reduce the threshold for [nuclear weapons] use. But that reduction could lead to a global nuclear catastrophe, "said the president at the nearly four-hour gathering in Moscow, in which he announced that his country had developed nuclear weapons that could give it an edge over other countries, thus fueling fears of a situation without a return. "New Start (another bilateral treaty limiting the number of strategic nuclear missiles and nuclear warheads in Russia and the US) expires in 2021. And we have no negotiations underway yet. Do not you want to talk about it? Do not they care? Well, okay. We'll be safe, we know how to protect ourselves, "Putin said.
 Since October, when President Donald Trump announced that the US would leave the Treaty on Medium-range Nuclear Forces, claiming that Moscow was violating it, control of weapons - especially nuclear weapons - has become one of the most serious friction points ever more complicated relationship between the two countries. And it has also become a concern for the rest of the players on the global geopolitical board, who, like the European Union and China, are trying to maneuver for Washington and Moscow to keep the agreement signed in 1987 by then-US President Ronald Reagan and the secretary - general of the Communist Party of the former USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, which provided for the destruction of a whole category of nuclear weapons.
 On Thursday Putin accused the United States of making the world less secure with his attitude. "It's hard to imagine what's going to happen. If these [US] missiles are to be installed in Europe, we will have to ensure our safety, "the Russian president said, adding that he had previously insinuated that Russia would respond" symmetrically "to the deployment of these missiles in their neighborhood.
 Putin, who stressed the importance of normalizing relations with Trump, said Washington was considering using ballistic missiles with conventional warheads. The launch of such a missile could be mistaken for a nuclear strike, triggering a global catastrophe, he said. "If this happened, it could lead to the destruction of all civilization and even be the end of our planet," he warned the nearly 1,700 people - mostly journalists - present in the auditorium. Brandishing the nuclear threat, he sought to present himself as the reasonable party. "I hope humanity has enough common sense and a sense of self-preservation not to take things to such extremes," he added.
 Putin's annual conference has turned into a question-and-answer marathon in a show in which the Russian president gives free rein to his speech and sends messages to allies and opponents. All this while the journalists try to get their attention to get the word - with posters, wearing regional costumes or waving scarves and even banners. Putin, 66, is in power as president or prime minister since 1999, and this was his 14th. interview. It culminates a year in which, in spite of being reelected by an overwhelming majority (more than 76% of the votes), its popularity is in decline due to an unpopular social security reform, that increases the age of retirement, and to the economic stagnation derived from the collapse of the price oil and sanctions.
Russophobia and sanctions
 The Russian leader also has increasingly open fronts on the international scene, with escalating tension with Ukraine becoming increasingly hot, as well as revelations about Russia's interference in foreign affairs. But Putin joked, even jokingly, about who says he wants to dominate the world, and said that it is the West that wants to double Russia, because of its great potential.
 In fact, Putin spoke again in "russophobia". He cited the case of former Russian spy Serguei Skripal, poisoned in British territory with his daughter Yulia by Russian intelligence agents, according to the UK version. "They are political movements, and if there had not been the Skripal case they would have invented something. The goal

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