Fri Jun 19, 2015 6:16AM
US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, (AFP photo).
US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, (AFP photo).

A senior US diplomat has downplayed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statements about Moscow’s plan to increase its nuclear arsenals to defend itself if threatened.

US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland said the Russian president’s statements that Moscow will add more than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal this year, have only an intimidating effect, while the reality is not that much dramatic,  Czech news agency ČTK reported.

"Those kinds of announcements when made publicly like that obviously have a rattling effect," Nuland said on a visit to Prague, Czech Republic, on Thursday.

She also warned that Washington will continue to closely monitor the situation. “We will be watching extremely closely what happens."

Putin said on Tuesday that "if someone puts some of our territories under threat, that means we will have to direct our armed forces and modern strike power at those territories, from where the threat emanates.”

“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,” he added.

Putin’s statements followed a US plan to station tanks and heavy weapons in NATO member states on Russia's border.

On Sunday, Poland said it was in talks with Washington about stationing heavy US weaponry on its soil.

US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said that F-22 fighter jets could be deployed to Europe as the standoff with Moscow continues, according to The Wall Street Journal.

This would be the first time since the end of the Cold War that the US is stationing heavy weaponry in the Eastern European countries, once part of the Soviet Union.

SB/HRJ