Meeting with US national security adviser John Bolton in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a comment about Washington’s hostility that went right over the hawkish diplomat’s head.
“As far as I remember, the US coat of arms features a bald eagle that holds 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in another, which is a symbol of a peace-loving policy,” Putin said in a meeting with Bolton in Moscow on Tuesday.
“I have a question,” the Russian president added. “Looks like your eagle has already eaten all the olives; are the arrows all that is left?”
Bolton, who reportedly persuaded to US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, responded:
“But I didn’t bring any more olives.”
“That’s what I thought,” Putin quipped in reply.
The Russian president said it would be “very useful” to continue direct talks with Trump, perhaps on the sidelines of an international event such as next month’s anniversary of the WWI armistice in Paris, “if the American side is interested in such contacts, of course.”
Trump is “looking forward” to seeing Putin in Paris, Bolton confirmed.
Bolton described his meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu as “very interesting” and “very productive,” without going into details.
The talks presumably touched on the INF Treaty, which Washington has accused Russia of violating. Moscow says the US withdrawal from the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty and stationing of missile defense systems in Poland and Romania, capable of launching INF-prohibited warheads, constitute a violation.
“Technology has changed, strategic reality has changed, and we both have to deal with it,” Bolton told the BBC, describing his talks with Shoigu about the INF.