The strengthening of defence capabilities and protection from external threats remain Russia's key challenges, according to President Vladimir Putin.
"Strengthening defence capabilities and Russian security, and [building] reliable protection from exterior threats have been and remain our priority, key tasks. I emphasize that our political and governmental leaders, the society, and all the citizens of our country understand perfectly well the exclusive, vital importance of these tasks", Putin told a Russian Defence Ministry gathering on Tuesday.
He also touted the country's new weapon systems, which Putin said "increase manifold" the potential of the Russian army and navy.
"It reliably and unconditionally ensures Russia's security for the coming decades, strengthening the balance of forces and therefore stability in the world", Putin underscored.
He expressed hope that the new Russian weapon systems will make those who "got used to militaristic and aggressive rhetoric" think twice.
He also said that Russia will focus on equipping the army with weapons capable of effectively overcoming missile defence, such as the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle.
"We need to intensify efforts so that we could switch to modern weapons which have advanced capabilities for tackling missile defence systems", Putin said, referring to the upcoming serial production of the Avangard gliders.
Russia May Take More Security Steps if US Exits From INF Treaty — Putin
Separately, Putin pledged that Russia would take more measures to strengthen its security if the US decides to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. He emphasized that Russia remains committed to the document.
"In case of the breakdown of the treaty by the US — I have already said it publicly and I deem it necessary to state once again directly — we will have to take additional measures to strengthen our security", Putin stressed.
He also made it plain that nothing stands in the way of negotiations for other countries to join the INF Treaty, and that Russia could easily create land-based intermediate range missiles in response to Washington possibly scrapping the document. He noted that Russia's new rockets do not violate the INF Treaty, suggesting that the US' exit could be caused by fears that Russia has an array of sea-based and air-based missiles.
According to Putin, Washington's potential pull-out of the INF Treaty could give impetus to an arms race and cannot be seen as "aspirations of a peace-loving nature".
Putin also noted that it remains unclear why the Soviet Union's leadership decided to disarm unilaterally upon concluding the INF Treaty with the US in 1987.
"Only God knows why did the leadership of the Soviet Union agree to this one-sided disarmament, but this was done, and our partners continued to develop such systems, I repeat, sea- and air-based," Putin said.US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States would suspend its adherence to the INF Treaty within 60 days unless Russia returned to full compliance with the agreement.
Moscow has repeatedly rejected US allegations that Russia has violated the INF treaty. In turn, Moscow has complained that launchers on US defence systems in Europe could fire cruise missiles at ranges that violate the INF's terms