The Kremlin has said US President Donald Trump took “a dangerous position” by deciding to abandon an existing nuclear weapons treaty with Russia without offering anything to replace it.
As Mr Trump’s national security adviser prepared to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Putin’s spokesman acknowledged the 1987 arms control deal had “weak spots”. But Dmitry Peskov warned Washington against withdrawing from the agreement without proposing improvements or a substitute treaty.
“Right now, we don’t have any prospects whatsoever for a new deal,” Mr Peskov said. “It’s important to figure out if it’s possible or not.”
Mr Trump restated on Monday his threat to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty because of alleged Russia violations.
He said the United States would start developing the type of ground-launched nuclear cruise and ballistic missiles the treaty banned until “people come to their senses” and then “we’ll all stop”.
In Moscow, Mr Peskov said that sacrificing the landmark pact for a hypothetical better deal was “a dangerous position”.
The treaty was signed by then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, prohibiting the US and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying ground-launched nuclear cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles.
China was not a party to the original agreement, and Mr Trump said it should be included in the treaty.
US national security adviser John Bolton is scheduled to meet with Mr Putin in Moscow on Tuesday. Mr Bolton struck a conciliatory note in his talks with senior Russian officials earlier in the day.
Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu lauded Mr Bolton for making a two-day visit and said that “even small steps will benefit our relations and help restore trust” between the two countries.
He also said that Russia and the US should build up their co-operation in Syria that helped to prevent major incidents in the sky or on the ground.
Mr Bolton told Mr Shoigu he was in Moscow to work on Mr Trump’s commitment to improve security co-operation with Russia.
“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,” he said.
In televised comments, neither Mr Bolton nor Mr Shoigu mentioned Mr Trump’s announcement on the INF treaty.