President Trump is initiating “an arms race” for a previously banned nuclear weapons and missile program by exiting a landmark treaty, according to a top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"This is a very dangerous intention,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, per TASS, a state-run outlet. “In fact, it declares an intention to start an arms race and to build up military potential.”
John Bolton, the White House national security adviser, announced U.S. plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty during a trip this week to Moscow. The 1987 pact, signed between the United States and the Soviet Union, bans the deployment of land-based missiles “with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers,” per the State Department. The decision followed years of U.S. complaints that Russia has violated the treaty by developing and deploying those weapons.
“The problem is there are Russian INF-violate missiles in Europe now,” Bolton told reporters Tuesday. “The threat is not American withdrawal from the treaty. The threat is the Russian missiles already deployed.”
Russia denies any such violations, leaving negotiations over the issue at a logjam. “How do you convince the Russians to come back into compliance with obligations they don’t think they're violating?” Bolton asked.
Peskov, standing by those denials, signaled that the open development of the intermediate range weapons could be in the offing. “In the context of such statements we will certainly give thought to our national interests and Russia’s national security first and foremost,” he said.
That’s what U.S. officials maintain they are doing. "It's better to win an arms race than lose a war," Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said last year.