By NATALIYA VASILYEVA and VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV , Associated Press
MOSCOW (AP) — U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton held talks with top Russian officials Monday after President Donald Trump had declared an intention to pull out of a landmark nuclear weapons treaty.
The Kremlin expressed disappointment with Trump’s announcement on Saturday that the United States would walk away from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that the U.S. withdrawal from the treaty would “make the world a more dangerous place.”
He added that Russia will have to take countermeasures to “restore balance” if the U.S. opts out of the agreement.
Trump alleged that Russia violated terms of the treaty that prohibit the U.S. and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying ground-launched nuclear cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles.)
Peskov reaffirmed Moscow’s strong denial of any treaty violations.
“We categorically disagree with the claim that Russia has violated the INF Treaty,” he said. “Russia has fully adhered to the treaty’s provisions.”
He noted that Russia long has voiced concern about what it sees as U.S. violations of the treaty.
U.S. officials have accused Russia of testing and deploying a land-based cruise missile in violation of the treaty. Russia has denied the claim and charged that U.S. missile defense facilities in Romania could be modified to house ground-to-ground intermediate-range cruise missiles.
Bolton met with Security Council chairman Nikolai Patrushev early and they discussed a broad range of issues including arms control agreements, Syria, Iran, North Korea and the fight against terrorism.
The Security Council said in a statement after the talks that “the parties discussed prospects of developing a dialogue on strategic issues between Moscow and Washington,” and noted the importance of maintaining regular contacts.
Bolton is set to hold talks later in the day with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Monday that NATO has repeatedly expressed concern about Russia’s nuclear-capable 9M729 missile. She added that “in the absence of any credible answer from Russia on this new missile, allies believe that the most plausible assessment would be that Russia is in violation of the INF Treaty.”
Lungescu didn’t comment on U.S. President Donald Trump’s weekend threat to withdraw from the treaty, saying only that the “allies continue consultations.”
The European Union warned Trump to assess the potential impact on American citizens and the world of the U.S. withdrawing from the INF Treaty.
The EU said in a statement that beyond urging Russia to stick to the treaty it also expects “the United States to consider the consequences of its possible withdrawal from the INF on its own security, on the security of its allies and of the whole world.”
The bloc noted that the treaty had been an essential cornerstone of Europe’s security structure for more than three decades, adding “the world doesn’t need a new arms race that would benefit no one and on the contrary, would bring even more instability.”
Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.