Putin says Russia is beefing up its nuclear arsenal

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Business Russia forum in Moscow, Russia, May 26, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

By Maria Tsvetkova – KUBINKA, Russia (Reuters) President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Russia would add more than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal this year and a defense official accused NATO of provoking a new arms race.

Putin made his announcement a day after Russian officials denounced a U.S. plan to station tanks and heavy weapons in NATO states on Russia’s border as the most aggressive U.S. act since the Cold War.

“More than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles able to overcome even the most technically advanced anti-missile defense systems will be added to the make-up of the nuclear arsenal this year,” Putin, flanked by army officers, said in a speech to a military and arms fair.

Tension is high between Russia and the United States over the crisis in Ukraine and Washington and Moscow have disagreements on a range of other issues.

Russian officials have warned that Moscow will retaliate if the United States carries out the plan to store heavy military equipment in eastern Europe, including in the Baltic states that were once part of the Soviet Union.

“The feeling is that our colleagues from NATO countries are pushing us into an arms race,” RIA news agency quoted Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov as saying on the sidelines of the arms fair.

(Additional reporting and writing by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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