Treaty Exits and Extensions Top Trump Adviser’s Moscow Talks

MOSCOW (AP) -
bolton russia
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton (L) and Russian Security Council chairman Nikolai Patrushev in Moscow, Monday. (Press Service of the Russian Security Council via AP)

U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser met in Moscow with top Russian officials Monday, less than 48 hours after Trump declared he intended to pull the United States out of a 1987 nuclear weapons treaty.

National Security Adviser John Bolton and his Russian counterpart, Security Council chairman Nikolai Patrushev, discussed arms control agreements, Syria, Iran, North Korea and the fight against terrorism, according to the Security Council.

“The parties discussed prospects of developing a dialogue on strategic issues between Moscow and Washington” and the importance of maintaining regular contacts.

Patrushev and Bolton also discussed a possible five-year extension of another pivotal arms control agreement between Russia and the U.S. — the New START Treaty that went into force in 2011 and is set to expire in 2021, the statement said.

The Kremlin started off Monday expressing disappointment with Trump’s announcement late Saturday that the United States would walk away from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the agreement in Washington.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, warned Monday that the U.S. withdrawal from the treaty would “make the world a more dangerous place.”

He added that Russia would have to take countermeasures to “restore balance” if the U.S. opts out of the agreement.

President Trump alleged that Russia violated terms of the treaty that prohibit the U.S. and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying ground-launched nuclear cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles.)

U.S. officials have accused Russia of testing and deploying a land-based cruise missile in violation of the treaty. Bolton also held talks Monday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He is scheduled to meet with President Putin on Tuesday.

Peskov reaffirmed Moscow’s strong denial of any treaty violations.

“We categorically disagree with the claim that Russia has violated the INF Treaty,” he said. “Russia has fully adhered to the treaty’s provisions.”

He noted that Russia long has voiced concern about what it sees as U.S. violations of the treaty. Russia has charged that U.S. missile defense facilities in Romania could be modified to house ground-to-ground intermediate-range cruise missiles.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Monday that the military alliance has repeatedly expressed concern about Russia’s nuclear-capable 9M729 missile.

“In the absence of any credible answer from Russia on this new missile, allies believe that the most plausible assessment would be that Russia is in violation of the INF Treaty,” she said.

Lungescu didn’t comment on Trump’s threat to withdraw from the treaty, saying only that the “allies continue consultations.”

The European Union warned Trump to assess the potential impact of abandoning a 40-year-old arms control agreement.

The EU said that along with urging Russia to stick to the treaty, it encouraged “the United States to consider the consequences of its possible withdrawal from the INF on its own security, on the security of its allies and of the whole world.”

The bloc described the treaty as an essential cornerstone of Europe’s security structure, adding, “the world doesn’t need a new arms race that would benefit no one and on the contrary, would bring even more instability.”