On October 23, U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. While the sides underlined the impotance of the dialogue and even announced a meeting between Putin and Trump in Paris on November 11, the meeting and the following press conference of Bolton showed that Russia and the US have deep contradictions on a wide range of issues.
“As I recall, there is a bald eagle pictured on the US coat of arms: it holds 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other as a symbol of peaceful policy: a branch with 13 olives. My question: has your eagle already eaten all the olives leaving only the arrows?“, Putin told Bolton during the meeting.
Bolton answered that he “didn’t bring any olives.”
During the meeting, Putin and Bolton discussed a wide range of topics, including tha anti-Russian sanctions and issues of the strategic stability, particularly the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the New START Treaty.
“We know and we talk much about the US unilateral withdrawal from the anti-ballistic missile treaty and recently we have heard about the US intention to quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty,” Putin said. “We know about the doubts in the [US] administration about the need to extend the New START Treaty and we hear about the intention to deploy some elements of the missile shield in outer space.”
Nonetheless, following the meeting Bolton held a press briefing to underline the stance of the Trump adminsitration on the topics discussed. He noted that Washington is determined to withdraw from the INF Treaty and announced that there is a “new strategic reality”.
Bolton described the INF treaty as a “bilateral treaty in a multipolar ballistic missile world,” that does not apply to countries like China, Iran or North Korea.” This argument had already been used by the Trump adminsitration. Nonethelss, it remains unclear how the Russia-US arms control treaty should be linked to China, Iran and North Korea which are located far away from the US mainland. 500-5,000km missiles limited by the treaty deployed in these countries cannot threat Washington.
The national security adviser also recalled US accusations against Russia alleging that Moscow violates the INF Treaty.
He also recalled how he was scheduled to fly to Moscow on September 11, 2001, to give notice that the US was withdrawing from the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty. Bolton joked that at that time all the media would call it “the cornerstone of international strategic stability.” There was no collapse of international stability, he continued.
“It was not true then, and it will not be true now, with this [INF] treaty,” Bolton said.
The crisis in the relations between Moscow and Washington is developing.