MOSCOW (Reuters) – A senior Russian defence official accused former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton on Friday of distorting facts in his memoir about talks with the Russian authorities about the U.S. withdrawal from a Cold War-era arms control treaty.
Washington last year withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), accusing Moscow of deploying cruise missiles throughout Russia in violation of the pact. Russia has denied violating the agreement.
In his book entitled “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir”, Bolton wrote that Russian President Vladimir Putin had acknowledged the American position on the need to withdraw from the agreement.
The pact had prevented Washington from deploying new weapons to counter a Chinese arms buildup in the Pacific.
“Putin seemed to have lost interest in the INF, saying to me (through an interpreter) that he understood our arguments and logic on the decision to withdraw from the INF, which I took to be an acknowledgement of our shared view on China,” Bolton wrote.
Speaking to Russian media on Friday, Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin said Bolton’s recollection “substantially distorts real events”.
“He said Russia allegedly supported the American reasoning about the loss of relevance of the INF treaty, including in light of the significant development of China’s nuclear missile programme,” TASS news agency quoted Fomin as saying.
“We in fact consider that the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement had been planned in advance, and that accusations that Russia was violating it are baseless.”
The demise of the INF treaty has strained the global arms control architecture erected during the Cold War to prevent an arms race between Washington and Moscow.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Polina Ivanova; Editing by Mark Heinrich)