- - Monday, October 22, 2018

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is traveling Moscow this week to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev. It is reported that a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin could also be in the works.
The main reason for Bolton’s trip involves Russian and American adherence to the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which was negotiated toward the end of the Cold War by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev prior to the fall of the USSR. I remember the intermediate-range missile issue very well in the late 1980s, when I was a young lieutenant and pilot in the U.S. Air Force. It took great courage for  Reagan to insist on deploying nuclear-tipped ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) and Pershing II missiles into Europe to counter Soviet SS-20s deployed throughout the Warsaw Pact. The nuclear freeze and anti-American movement went crazy in Europe with the streets filled with demonstrations against “Ronald Ray Gun” and his nuclear weapons.    
But he won the Cold War.
When President Putin began modernizing Russian nuclear forces after the split with the West a decade ago, the Kremlin developed a new nuclear GLCM capability and the U.S. alleges the missiles have been deployed at several sites inside western Russia to intimidate Eastern European countries thst were former Soviet republics. 
Secretary of Defense James Mattis declared the situation as untenable and promised the U.S. would respond if Moscow did not deactivate the missile capability. 
“Across two administrations, the United States and our allies have attempted to bring Russia back into full and verifiable compliance with INF,” a senior administration official told reporters in Washington on Oct. 19. “Despite our objections, Russia continues to produce and field prohibited cruise missiles and has ignored calls for transparency.”
Known for his hawkish policies on national security issues, Mr. Bolton has reportedly advised President Trump to withdraw from the treaty as a response. His point being, if the other side is ignoring the treaty, then why stay in it? 
Russia has denied the accusations, of course. 
Mr. Bolton is supposedly going to discuss with the Russian leadership Syria, Ukraine, North Korea and other issues. However, the main reason for the trip is to lay a very clear marker to the Kremlin that the United States plans to withdraw from the treaty if Russia continues along, and does not reverse, the deployment path. 
This will not make Mr. Putin and the leadership of the Kremlin very happy. We are now advancing to a very dangerous game of chicken.
Mr. Putin has made it very clear he considers the nuclear arsenal of the Russian Federation its trump card forgive the pun). Russia cannot sustain a large-scale conventional war outside its borders, no matter the propaganda emanating from Syria over the last several years. However, the Russian armed forces are very capable of defending the homeland. The issue is what about Russia’s near-abroad?
Mr. Putin very much wants to stop the caravan of former Soviet republics and satellites moving toward the West. This was the reason to develop the new GLCMs in the first place. 
Earlier this month, Mr. Putin declared that he is willing to use nuclear weapons if he sees the other side may strike first, saying Russians will go to heaven as martyrs. He consistently declares, “Don’t forget we have nuclear weapons,” seeming to make them more relevant in today’s security paradigm.
It will take a great deal of courage for President Donald Trump to withdraw from the 1987 INF Treaty. The Leftist, Marxist, anti-American media in the United States and Europe are already bringing out the old tactics used against Reagan in the 1980s. The “warmonger” calls will be deployed on cue. The “mentally ill” label will be thrown at Mr. Trump once again. The “idiot,” dangerous, alarming labels will be used with abandon by the corrupt media. 
Mr. Trump, however, will do as he always does: What is best for America.

L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, The New York Post and many other publications.

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