Russia says President Vladimir Putin will ask for an explanation this week from U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton when he visits Moscow about President Donald Trump’s intention to pull the United States out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty because of alleged Russian violations of the pact.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Sunday Trump’s action “would be a very dangerous step,” accusing the U.S. of trying to assume “total supremacy” in the world.
The agreement was negotiated in the late 1980s, signed by then U.S. President Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It required the elimination of short-range and intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles by the United States and Russia.
In announcing the withdrawal, Trump said Saturday, “Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years. And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we are not allowed to.”
Trump said the United States will develop the weapons unless Russia and China agree to stop manufacturing their own similar weaponry, although China is not part of the pact.
“If Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it, and we are adhering to the agreement, that is unacceptable,” Trump said.
Russia has denied violating the treaty.
Britain said it stood “absolutely resolute” with the United States in the dispute, although another American ally, Germany, called Trump’s move “regrettable.”
Gorbachev, now 87, attacked Trump’s action, telling the Interfax news agency, “Is it really so hard to understand that dropping these agreements… shows a lack of wisdom? Getting rid of the treaty is a mistake.”
He said the two countries “absolutely must not tear up old agreements on disarmament. All the agreements aimed at nuclear disarmament and limitation of nuclear arms must be preserved to save life on Earth.”
U.S. officials have previously alleged that Russia violated the treaty by deliberately deploying a land-based cruise missile in order to pose a threat to NATO. Russia has claimed that U.S. missile defenses violate the pact.
Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning campaign coalition, said that “by declaring he will leave the INF Treaty, President Trump has shown himself to be a demolition man who has no ability to build real security. Instead, by blowing up nuclear treaties, he is taking the U.S. down a trillion dollar road to a new nuclear arms race.”
Dmitry Oreshkin, an independent Russian political analyst told the Associated Press, “We are slowly slipping back to the situation of Cold War, as it was at the end of the Soviet Union, with quite similar consequences, but now it could be worse because Putin belongs to a generation that had no war under its belt. These people aren’t as much fearful of a war as people of [former Soviet leader Leonid] Brezhnev’s epoch. They think if they threaten the West properly, it gets scared.”