Amid the public whipsaw of New START nuclear-arms negotiations between Washington and Moscow, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, offered to limit deployment of land-based intermediate range missiles near the European border, media reported.
Early Monday morning, Washington time, a few Russian analysts on Twitter picked up on Putin’s Russian language statement Monday morning. Putin offered refrain from deploying the 9M279 missile near Europe if the U.S. would agree to reciprocal steps, including allowing inspections of deployed and planned Aegis Ashore missile defense systems in Romania and Poland.
The U.S. dropped out of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty last year over the 9M279 missile, which both the Obama and Trump administrations said violated the Cold War-era treaty against medium-range, land-based missiles in Europe. Russia complains that the Aegis Ashore missile defense system could easily be turned into an offensive weapon.
The U.S. has rushed ahead with plans for ground-based INF-range missile systems since the treaty withdrawal, but neither Washington nor Moscow has publicly discussed new nuclear-armed INF-range systems, yet.
Amid the latest development in election-season international arms control talks, Robert O’Brien, Trump national security adviser, is scheduled to address the Washington-based Hudson Institute on Wednesday. O’Brien is among the U.S. officials leading the very public negotiations over a possible one-year New START extension — the sides are bargaining over whether to extend the long-range-nuke-limiting accord for one year in exchange for a freeze on deploying other types of nuclear weapons.
The U.S. wants new verification measures to enforce the proposed freeze, and Russia has said such conditions are better discussed after formalizing a treaty extension, media reported last week.