China slams Trump nuclear treaty 'blackmail'

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Mr Trump echoed the comments, saying he would probably meet with Mr Putin next month after the mid-term elections. Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's upper house of parliament, said that a U.S. withdrawal from the treaty would mean "mankind is facing full chaos in the nuclear weapons sphere".

Conservative writer David Frum argued Tuesday on MSNBC's "The Beat" with Ari Melber that, contrary to both Trump and Bolton's claims, the Russian multi-pronged plot was a significant factor in the election.

Moscow has warned Washington it will be forced to respond in kind to restore the military balance if Trump carries through with his threat to quit the INF treaty, a 1987 agreement that eliminated all short- and intermediate-range land-based nuclear and conventional missiles held by both countries in Europe.

In another sign of the tensions, at the start of their meeting, the Russian leader asked Bolton if the eagle on the seal of the USA, which clutches olive branches in one claw and arrows in the other, "has eaten all the olives, leaving only arrows?" Laughing, Putin asked if the eagle ate all the olives.

Signed in 1987, the INF resolved a crisis over Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals.

Among NATO members, there is both "worry about Russian Federation ... and worry about Trump being trigger happy", Downman said. "All allies have strongly stated that we are concerned about the new missile and that the most plausible explanation is that Russian Federation is in violation of the INF treaty".

Nevertheless, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday he does not expect the United States to add more nukes in Europe as a response.

China warned on Tuesday it would "never accept any form of blackmail" after US President Donald Trump said his decision to withdraw from a nuclear pact with Russian Federation was also linked to Beijing's arsenal.

President Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday of a new arms race if America pulls out of weapons treaties, and said Russian Federation would respond "in kind" to any new United States missiles placed on European soil.

Bolton also said that China's cyberattacks against the United States made Russian Federation seem like the "junior partner". The Kremlin denies any violations and says scrapping the treaty would be a "dangerous" development and could spark a new arms race.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton told Putin on Tuesday that Washington would press ahead with plans to quit the pact despite objections from Russian Federation and some European countries.

In 2011, Bolton argued in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece that the United States should either expand the treaty to cover China or "abrogate it entirely so that we can rebuild our own deterrent capabilities".

Earlier in the day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had told reporters that there were now no prospects for a new deal to replace the INF and stressed the "dangerous position" of giving up the INF treaty without an alternative in sight. While considered a critical step in diffusing the Cold War at the time of its signing, Russian Federation has been violating it since at least 2014.

Putin and Bolton laughed as they exchanged the quips at the start of the meeting, setting an easy tone ahead of what was expected to be a tense discussion given Trump's weekend statement about abandoning the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

"NATO's military activities near our borders have reached the highest level since the Cold War times", Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, noting that the war games will be "simulating offensive military action".

"I am confident that even small steps will benefit our relations and will help rebuild trust", the defense minister said, according to the Interfax news agency.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shogun, who met Bolton on Tuesday, said Russia and the U.S. should jointly address strategic issues of nuclear deterrence and regulate major longstanding conflicts.

At a NATO summit in July all 29 allies, including the United States, said they were "fully committed to the preservation of this landmark arms control treaty".

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