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world U.S.-RUSSIA-MISSILES- 04-26

Putin suspends arms pact

President Vladimir V. Putin said Thursday that Russia would suspend its compliance with a treaty on conventional arms in Europe that was forged at the end of the Cold War, opening a fresh and intense dispute in the souring relations between NATO and the Kremlin.

The announcement, made in Putin’s annual address to Parliament, underscored the Kremlin’s anger at the United States for proposing a new missile defense system in Europe, which the Bush administration insists is meant to counter potential threats from North Korea and Iran.

Putin suggested that Russia would use its future compliance with the treaty as a bargaining point in that disagreement with the United States.

The new standoff also demonstrated the Kremlin’s lingering frustration over NATO’s expansion toward Russia’s borders and with the treaties negotiated in the 1990s when Russia, still staggering through its post-Soviet woes, was much weaker and less assertive on the world stage than it is today.

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