Putin Warns Trump Over ‘Dangerous’ Plan To Quit N-Deal

MOSCOW —  Russia on Sunday warned US President Donald Trump that his plan to ditch a Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty with Moscow was a dangerous step.

Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said this “would be a very danger­ous step” and accused the US of risking in­ternational condemnation in a bid for “total supremacy” in the military sphere.

He insisted that Moscow observed “in the strictest way” the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF, while accusing Washington of “flagrant violations”. The treaty was signed in 1987 by the then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet lead­er Mikhail Gorbachev.

But Trump on Saturday blamed Rus­sia for violating it.

“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. I don’t know why president (Barack) Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out. 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 National Security Adviser John Bolton was set to arrive in Moscow on Sunday evening and meet next week with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

That comes ahead of what is expected to be a second summit between Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin this year.

Bolton was also set to meet Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Putin aide Yuri Ushakov. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a “possi­ble meeting” was being arranged between Putin and Bolton.

Deputy foreign minister Ryabkov said he hoped that Trump’s national security adviser would explain the US plans “more substantively and clearly”. The US adminis­tration has complained of Moscow’s deploy­ment of 9M729 missiles, which Washington says can travel more than 500 kilometres, and thus violate the INF treaty.

The treaty, which banned missiles that could travel between 500 and 5472 kilome­tres, resolved a crisis that had begun in the 1980s with the deployment of Soviet SS-20 nuclear-tipped, intermediate-range ballis­tic missiles targeting Western capitals.

A Russian foreign ministry official earlier accused Washington of imple­menting policy “toward dismantling the nuclear deal”.

Washington “has approached this step over the course of many years by deliberately and step by step destroying the basis for the agreement”, said the un­named official, quoted by Russia’s three main news agencies.

The official accused the US of backing out of international agreements that put it on an equal footing with other coun­tries because it wanted to protect Ameri­can “exceptionalism”.

Russian senator Alexei Pushkov wrote on Twitter that the move was “the second powerful blow against the whole system of strategic stability in the world” after Washington’s 2001 withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.

“And again, the initiator of the dissolu­tion of the agreement is the US,” he added.

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