The Latest: Putin warns US about new Russian weapons

Posted at 5:54 AM, Feb 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-20 05:54:54-05

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Putin's state-of-the-nation speech (all times local):

1:50 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says Russia will target new weapons at the United States should it deploy new intermediate-range missiles in Europe following Washington's withdrawal from a key arms control pact.

Putin, speaking in Wednesday's state-of-the-nation address, rejected the U.S. claim that its withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty was prompted by Russian violations of the pact. He charged that the U.S. made false accusations against Russia to justify its decision to opt out of the pact.

Putin reaffirmed that Russia will not be the first to deploy new intermediate-range missiles in Europe, but warned that it will retaliate if the U.S. puts such missiles on the continent. He said it will not only target the host countries, but field new weapons that will target U.S. decision-making centers.


12:30 p.m.

President Vladimir Putin says in a state-of-the-nation address that Russia needs to focus on raising living standards.

Speaking on Wednesday before lawmakers and top officials, Putin said the government will increase social payments to support young families. He promised tax breaks, lower mortgage rates and housing subsidies for families with several children.

He said that the tax burden on developers will be eased to encourage them to expand housing construction.

Putin also emphasized the need to combat poverty, saying that 19 million of Russia's approximately 147 million people live below the official poverty line, currently the equivalent of around 160 dollars a month.