US National Security Advisor John Bolton will meet Saturday in Moscow with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, amid reports that Washington will tell Russia it plans to quit a landmark nuclear weapons treaty.
The visit comes ahead of what is expected to be a second summit between presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump this year.
The New York Times said the Trump administration plans to inform Russian leaders in the coming days that it is preparing to leave the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF.
The newspaper said the US accuses Russia of violating the deal, signed in 1987 by president Ronald Reagan, by deploying tactical nuclear weapons to intimidate former Soviet satellite states that are now close to the West. It added that Washington also wishes to remove limitations on itself as it seeks to counter Chinese arms buildups in Asia.
The INF banned land-based missiles with a short and medium range — between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (310 to 3,420 miles). It brought about the elimination of thousands of missiles.
US-Russia ties are under deep strain over accusations that Moscow meddled in the 2016 presidential election, as well as tension over Russian support for the Syrian government in the country’s civil war, and the conflict in Ukraine.
However, Washington is looking for support from Moscow in finding resolutions to the Syria war and putting pressure on both Iran and North Korea.
No new summit between Trump and Putin has been announced, but one is expected in the near future.
The two leaders will be in Paris on November 11 to attend commemorations marking the end of World War I.
A senior Trump administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said another potential date would be when the presidents both attend the Group of 20 meeting on November 30 to December 1.
“There are a couple possibilities, including the G20 in Buenos Aires or the Armistice Day parade in Paris. At the G20 is probably more likely,” the official said.
“President Trump’s invitation to Putin to visit Washington, DC still stands.”