Bolton arrives in Russia for talks on nuclear treaty

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton on Monday began two days of meetings with senior Russian officials following Washington’s weekend announcement of its withdrawal from a Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty. The Moscow visit by Mr. Bolton was planned before the Saturday announcement by President Donald Trump that the U.S. was ditching the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF, a move Moscow has already denounced as “dangerous”. The treaty, banning intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles, was signed in 1987 by then U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader. Mr. Gorbachev said on Sunday that “dropping these agreements… shows a lack of wisdom” and was a “mistake”. Mr. Bolton arrived in Russia on Sunday and is set to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. On Monday morning, he met his Russian counterpart, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev. On Tuesday, he may also speak about the treaty with President Vladimir Putin, according to Mr. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said the Russian leader was looking for “clarifications” about U.S. intentions. ‘U.S. eroding the pact’ Mr. Peskov told journalists on Monday that ditching the treaty “will make the world more dangerous” and rejected U.S. 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 defense capabilities and drones, he said. The Trump administration has complained of Moscow’s deployment of Novator 9M729 missiles, which Washington says fall under the treaty’s ban on missiles that can travel distances of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500 and 5,500 km). The INF resolved a crisis over Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals.

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