Russia will be forced to build up its nuclear forces if the United States does not ratify the New Strategic Arms Ratification Treaty, Putin told CNN in an interview to air on Wednesday.
"That's not our choice. We don't want that to happen. But this is not a threat on our part," Putin told CNN's Larry King. "We've been simply saying that this is what all of us expects to happen if we don't agree on a joint effort there."
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama signed the new treaty on April 8 in Prague to replace the START 1 agreement that expired in December 2009. It can only come into force after it is ratified by both houses of the Russian parliament and the U.S. Senate.
Russia has said it will act symmetrically with the United States regarding treaty ratification, but the treaty has met strong Republican opposition in the U.S. Senate over concerns that it may weaken U.S. anti-missile defenses.
The Republicans won a solid majority in the U.S. congressional elections in early November, meaning Obama has until January, when the new Congressmen take up their positions, to try to push the treaty through.
Putin said it would take "a very dumb nature" for the United States to ignore its own interests, but if it does, "then we'll have to react somehow," including by deploying new nuclear missile technology.
Putin said that without the treaty, Russia will have to arm itself against the "new threats" posed by U.S. plans for a European-based missile defense system.
"We have been told that you'll do it in order to secure you against the, let's say, Iranian nuclear threat," Putin said. "But such a threat, as of now, doesn't exist."
The new Russian-U.S. pact obligates both nations to cap their fielded strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 warheads, while the number of deployed and non-deployed delivery vehicles must not exceed 800 on either side.
King asked Putin what he thought about one of the cables disclosed by Wikileaks on Sunday in which U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates describes the Russian government as an "oligarchy run by the security services."
"When we are talking with our American friends and tell them, there are systemic problems in this regard, we can hear from them 'Don't interfere with our affairs. This is our tradition and it's going to continue like that.' We are not interfering," Putin said. "But to our colleagues, I would also like to advise you, don't interfere either [with] the sovereign choice of the Russian people."
The Russian Prime Minister also told CNN that he would make a "concerted decision" with Medvedev about whether he would seek the presidency again in 2012 when the time comes.
"We'll see. There is still quite time before the elections take place," Putin said, adding that another WikiLeaks claim that he plays Batman to Medvedev's Robin was "aimed to slander one of us."
"The truth of the matter is, this is about our interaction, which is an important factor of the domestic policies in this country. But to be honest with you, we didn't suspect that this would be done with such arrogance, with such a push and, you know, being so unethically done."
MOSCOW, December 1 (RIA Novosti)