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    Russia is preparing to defend itself against aggression while Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the INF Treaty signals that the US is readying for a war, according to Andrei Belousov, a top Russian Foreign Ministry official. Sputnik talked this over with Tony Kevin, a former Australian diplomat and author of the book "Return to Moscow."

    Sputnik: What’s your take on the Russian diplomat’s conclusion that Washington is preparing to start a war?

    Tony Kevin: I think it’s a little bit overdramatic. I think Trump is an incoherent president at best. The people who are his closest advisers, [John] Bolton and [Mike] Pompeo, are not much better. Perhaps the only ray of hope in all this is that Bolton left Moscow saying “well, the decision hasn’t yet been fully taken.”

    I think Trump has a bit of a habit of overstating conflict; he did this with the North Korean president, and he was vowing fire and brimstone and bringing nuclear destruction to bear on North Korea, and then they met and were great friends in Singapore, and they still seem to be reasonably friendly at this point. Trump is erratic, he is an actor and he’s unstable. I am not saying that Russia and the world should not be very worried about this. Of course we are, we should be; but I don’t think it’s World War III just yet. 

    Sputnik: That’s a bit of relief. Nonetheless, this is a very worrying tendency that Donald Trump is repeatedly withdrawing from various treaties. How do you assess his decision? What do you think prompted him to make the decision, to withdraw from the INF Treaty specifically at the time that he did, or said he would do so?

    Tony Kevin: Look, America is a declining power, it’s a country where the working class has been impoverished, where there is great fear and anxiety; most poor people live from paycheck to paycheck. There are incredible disparities of wealth in the US. It’s a very sick society at the moment, let’s be honest about it.

    Trump is facing midterm elections; he is trying to mobilize the frightened American working class in all kinds of ways. He’s doing it with the threat to put the army onto this pathetic convoy of poor people coming from Honduras. He is talking that up as a national emergency. He’s trying to say, I think, that America needs his so-called strength to defend it against an aggressive Russia and an aggressive Iran.

    He’s a disaster of a president. The challenge for Russia, I think, and China and good-thinking nations in the United Nations is to somehow try and contain this nightmare, restrain it and not respond in kind. Can I just say that when I was a young man, the INF missiles did exist on both sides of Europe — they were there — so, in a sense, this is nothing new; Trump and Bolton are talking about putting them back.

    I think when East Europeans, particularly, start thinking about the implications for them, of these arrays of intermediate range missiles going into their countries, and corresponding arrays going in just over the border in Russia aimed at their countries, I think it’s going to create a rather sober reality check.

    This may take some time, and I think perhaps the rhetoric of the senior Russian official in the disarmament and arms control section is part of this process of playing for time and saying “look, this is really very serious; we’ve got to slow this down and think again.” So, I think, it’s a time when diplomacy is really more important than ever.

    It has to be, of course, diplomacy involving the West European NATO allies as well. They must realize that this is about them. It’s interesting that Trump is trying to generalize this to China and saying: “well, this is really a problem about China as well.”

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Tony Kevin and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik’s position.

    Related:

    ‘Russia Prepares for War, US Prepares a War’ – Diplomat on INF Treaty Withdrawal
    UN Committee Votes Against Russia’s Resolution on INF Treaty
    The INF Treaty and the Security Dilemma
    Tags:
    Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), withdrawal, diplomacy, agreement, Donald Trump, United States
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