“Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” That was the message from President-elect Donald Trump, who appears all set for a massive increase in spending on nuclear arms, and appears particularly keen on making it some sort of competition with the Russians.
You can’t have a race without an opponent, however, and Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the idea, insisting his nation wants to make some very specific improvements to their nuclear arms, but has no interest in getting into another arms race.
Putin insisted that the US as “more missiles, submarines, and aircraft carriers,” but that Russia remains confident that they are stronger than any potential aggressor. He also insisted Trump’s talk of expanding the US arsenal wasn’t surprising to him, and didn’t appear to find it particularly concerning.
It did spark a new round of public concern from Trump’s domestic critics, though his transition team sought to clarify the comments, insisting that Trump doesn’t necessarily envision a new nuclear arms race, but was just meant as a “general message of strength.”
It did, however, come a day after Trump pledged that the US would start building nukes and keep building until the “world comes to its senses.” Putin had also talked of spending on Russia’s arsenal, though his comments were more specifically centered on overcoming US-made missile defense systems, which is practice aren’t a major threat to the nuclear arsenals given their relative small number of unreliability.