Russia’s Vladimir Putin met U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security advisor on Tuesday after the Kremlin said that Trump’s talk of quitting a landmark arms treaty that scrapped nuclear missiles in Europe was dangerous.
In opening remarks, Putin told John Bolton that Russia was sometimes surprised by what he said were unprovoked steps that Washington took against Moscow.
But he said he wanted to hold new talks with Trump, possibly in Paris next month – a meeting which Bolton said he thought Trump would welcome.
“We barely respond to any of your steps but they keep on coming,” Putin told Bolton.
“On the coat of the arms of the United States there’s an eagle holding 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other. My question is whether your eagle has gobbled up all the olives leaving only the arrows?”
Bolton, who told Putin he hoped to be able to address some of Putin’s concerns about the troubled state of U.S.-Russia relations, quipped that he hadn’t brought any olives.
Bolton’s visit to Moscow comes a day after Russia said it would be forced to respond in kind to restore the military balance with the United States if Trump followed through on his threat to quit the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty and began developing new missiles.
Before the talks began, a Kremlin spokesman said the landmark INF treaty had its weak points, but the U.S. approach of talking about leaving it without proposing a replacement was dangerous.