Trump to meet Putin after threat to pull out of arms pact

Paris meeting agreed during talks between Bolton and Putin in Moscow

Vladimir Putin with John Bolton:  talks came after the US president threatened to pull out of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia. Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov/AFP/Getty Images

Vladimir Putin with John Bolton: talks came after the US president threatened to pull out of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia. Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov/AFP/Getty Images

 

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will meet in Paris next month for talks arranged shortly after the US president’s threat to pull out of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

The two leaders will meet on November 11th on the sidelines of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the first World War, which both leaders were already scheduled to attend.

The meeting – the first between the two men since their Helsinki summit in July – was agreed in talks between Mr Putin and John Bolton, Mr Trump’s national security adviser, in Moscow, days after Mr Trump said he would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.

“Honestly, sometimes it is surprising for us to see the United States take absolutely unprovoked steps towards Russia that we cannot call friendly,” Mr Putin told Mr Bolton.

“Recently we heard about the United States’s intention to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty. We are aware of the doubts within the administration about the need to extend the New Start [arms control agreement]; we hear about the intention to deploy certain elements of the anti-ballistic missile system in space,” Mr Putin added.

Mr Bolton, who is seen as one of the Trump administration’s most hawkish officials and the main lobbyist behind the INF move, said his own meeting with Mr Putin had been useful.

“Despite the differences that exist between us in accordance with the national interests of each country, it is nevertheless very useful for us to meet and find those points of contact that may be useful for us,” Mr Bolton said.

Nuclear warheads

Signed in 1987, the INF treaty banned land-based conventional and nuclear missiles with a range between 500km and 5,500km, essentially protecting European capitals from Soviet attack. The EU has condemned any threat to what it called a cornerstone of the continent’s security.

Defence analysts have said that given the treaty was originally envisaged to curb Russia’s threat to Europe, and Russia’s superior focus on land-based missiles, Moscow would be a short-term beneficiary of any US withdrawal.

But an end to the treaty would remove one of a dwindling number of cold war-era deals between the US and Russia, further eroding Moscow’s status as a major geopolitical player.

Analysts have also warned that scrapping INF could make an extension to New Start, an agreement limiting the number of nuclear warheads possessed by both countries, more difficult. On Monday, Mr Bolton said the US “does not have a position to negotiate” on the treaty at present.

His talks with Mr Putin were the final meeting in a two-day visit to the Russian capital, where Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election, the war in Syria, and China were also discussed.

‘Help restore trust’

Earlier on Tuesday, Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu praised Mr Bolton for travelling to Moscow and said that “even small steps will benefit our relations and help restore trust” between the two countries, whose relations have fallen to a post cold war nadir since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

In remarks broadcast by television cameras before the meeting continued in private, neither man mentioned the INF treaty.

“We certainly share your view that the US-Russian discussions with respect to Syria have been useful, productive and professional, and we hope we can extend those conversations through a number of other ways that you mentioned, and even more,” Mr Bolton said. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018