US security chief in Moscow as nuclear treaty hangs in balance

Updated October 23, 2018

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This handout picture released by the Russian Foreign Ministry shows John Bolton (L), National Security Adviser to the US President and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) entering a hall during their meeting in Moscow on October 22. — AFP
This handout picture released by the Russian Foreign Ministry shows John Bolton (L), National Security Adviser to the US President and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) entering a hall during their meeting in Moscow on October 22. — AFP

MOSCOW: The Kremlin said on Monday that Washington’s withdrawal from a key Cold War-era nuclear treaty would make the world more dangerous, as Donald Trump’s national security advisor met senior Russian officials in Moscow.

John Bolton is expected to discuss Trump’s plan to jettison the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

On Monday, Bolton discussed the fate of the treaty with Russian Security Council Chief Nikolai Patrushev and was expected to meet with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later in the day.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that ditching the treaty “will make the world more dangerous” and rejected US claims that Moscow has violated the pact, instead accusing Washington of doing so.

“It is the United States that is eroding the foundations and main elements of this pact” with its missile defence capabilities and drones, he said.

Lavrov said he was waiting to hear Bolton’s “official explanation” regarding Trump’s intentions, adding that for the moment the US side has not initiated the official procedure for exiting the treaty. Trump on Saturday claimed that Russia had long violated the treaty, known as the INF.

“We’re the ones who have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honoured the agreement, but Russia has not unfortunately honoured the agreement, so we’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out,” he told reporters.

“Russia has violated the agreement. They’ve been violating it for many years,” he said. “And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons (while) we’re not allowed to.”

Trump’s announcement raised global concerns, with the European Commission urging the US and Russia to pursue talks to preserve the treaty and China calling on Washington to “think twice”.

The Commission, the 28-nation European Union executive, stressed that the INF has been a mainstay of European defence for the last three decades.

“The US and the Russian Federation need to remain in a constructive dialogue to preserve this treaty and ensure it is fully and verifiably implemented,” spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters. She said the agreement was important for both European and global security.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2018

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