MOSCOW, June 23. /TASS/. The United States was aware from the outset that Russia would reject the demands Washington put forward as a precondition for preserving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, as follows from a book of reminiscences by the former presidential national security adviser John Bolton entitled The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, to be released on Tuesday.
Bolton says gaining NATO allies’ support was an important stage of pulling out from the INF Treaty. The issue was discussed with NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of talks in Moscow in October 2018. Stoltenberg expressed concern the US pullout might split the European countries, but, as Bolton says, he promised that Washington’s decision would not entail threats to Europe. In the same conversation with Stoltenberg Bolton acknowledged that there were no chances whatsoever Russia might give in to US demands and agree to eliminate the missiles that Washington pointed at as a violation of the treaty.
"As for Russia, did anyone seriously believe they would junk existing assets that violated the treaty, especially since China’s growing missile threat along its Asian borders was likely driving Moscow as much or more than what it was seeking to achieve in Europe?" he writes.
Also, Bolton recalls he recommended to Trump to try to agree with Russia on a simultaneous pullout from the INF Treaty. "I suggested, why didn’t I ask … that the two countries withdraw mutually; this approach could … allow us to announce an agreement with Russia on something of importance," Bolton says. Trump, however, said, he did not want to do that and insisted on the United States’ prompt withdrawal. Also, Bolton remarks it was totally unclear to him if Trump fully realized the gist of the INF and the fact that it concerned not nuclear potentials, but only delivery vehicles.
Bolton claims he was the one who played the decisive role in the pullout from the INF Treaty. According to his recollections, he had already discussed this decision with the then Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo before he briefed the president on Russia’s "violations" of the treaty. Trump demanded quitting the treaty as soon as possible.
The INF Treaty was terminated on August 2, 2019 at the initiative of the United States. Washington said the reason was Russia’s refusal to comply with its ultimatum-like demand for scrapping all new cruise missiles 9M729, which, according to the United States and its NATO allies, were a violation of the agreement. Moscow dismissed these charges, saying that the technical parameters of the 9M729 missile matched those permitted under the INF Treaty and put forward its own counterarguments over Washington’s non-compliance.