Years of US allegations that Russia is violating the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) may be coming to a head, with John Bolton reportedly pushing hard for President Trump to withdraw outright from the pact.
Instead of negotiating over the questions, Bolton wants the US to just withdraw outright, despite that being a major escalation on tensions with Russia. State Department and Pentagon officials are both opposed to this.
The administration was to have talks on Monday to discuss Bolton’s idea, but this has been postponed, at least for now. Still, Congress is also pushing for action on Russia, as part of general hostility toward Russia.
US Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison suggested that the US was preparing to preemptively attack Russia and “take out” the missiles they consider a violation. Bolton’s pullout, while intended as a provocation, appears to be at least somewhat less-so than attacking Russia outright.
The question of whether Russia is actually violating the INF is a complicated matter. Russia argues the missiles in question are not in violation of the letter of the treaty, while US officials have never attempted to prove they are, just repeatedly claiming such a violation happened.