US national security adviser John Bolton was in Moscow meeting with Russian officials and President Vladimir Putin, for what was sure to be a very comprehensive and contentious couple of days, but in a sign of a possible thaw, in what has become a second cold war, Putin and Bolton traded some good spirited jokes with one another.
Putin commented to Bolton in a meeting on Tuesday…
“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.”
“I have a question,” the Russian president continued, “Looks like your eagle has already eaten all the olives; are the arrows all that is left?”
US national security adviser John Bolton, who many reporters signal as the driving force in pushing US President Trump to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, replied…
But I didn’t bring any more olives.
“That’s what I thought,” Putin replied…all in good fun, and a good moment between adversaries who may finally be searching for ways to scale back the tense rhetoric that has defined US-Russia relations over the last decade.
The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss John Bolton’s trip to Moscow, where despite rocky relations, a Mueller witch-hunt investigation, and a proxy war in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US national security adviser John Bolton joked around a bit, ever so slightly, moving step-by-step towards rapprochement, with a Trump-Putin meeting in Paris.
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.
The Kremlin’s official statement on the meeting with Assistant to the US President for National Security Affairs John Bolton…
Vladimir Putin received in the Kremlin Assistant to the President of the United States of America for National Security Affairs John Bolton.
Taking part in the meeting from the Russian side were Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.
Earlier today, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu met with John Bolton. On October 22, Nikolai Patrushev and Sergei Lavrov also had talks with the Assistant to the US President.
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Beginning of conversation with Assistant to the US President for National Security Affairs John Bolton
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Bolton, colleagues,
We are pleased to see you in Moscow.
At the beginning of our conversation I would like to recall our meeting with the President of the United States in Helsinki. In my view, it was a useful, and at times fairly tough, meeting and conversation which ultimately turned out to be fruitful, in my opinion.
This is why, to be honest, we are sometimes perplexed to see the United States take absolutely unprovoked steps towards Russia that we cannot call friendly. We actually do not even respond to your steps, yet this approach continues.
Despite your efforts trade between our countries – however strange it might seem – continues to grow, 16 percent last year; this year it has already grown by 8 percent. This is small in absolute numbers, very small, of course, however, this is the trend. With a positive balance for the United States, by the way. Mutual investments are also growing with Russian investments in the US economy at twice the US investments in the Russian economy.
It will, of course, be very useful to exchange views on the issues of strategic stability, disarmament issues, and regional conflicts.
We know – and talk a lot – about the unilateral exit of the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. We recently heard about the United States’ intention to exit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. We know about the Administration’s doubts about prolonging New START and hear about the intention to deploy some elements of the anti-missile defence system in space.
As I recall, there is a bald eagle pictured on the US coat of arms: it holds 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other as a symbol of peaceful policy: a branch with 13 olives. My question: has your eagle already eaten all the olives leaving only the arrows?
In general, I would like very much to talk with you not only as the Assistant to the US President, but also as a specialist on disarmament and arms control.
And, of course, it would be useful to continue a direct dialogue with the US President, first of all, on the sidelines of the international events that will take place soon, such as the one in Paris. Of course, if the US is interested in such contacts.
Assistant to the President of the United States of America for National Security Affairs John Bolton: Well, thank you very much, Mr President. It is a pleasure to see you again. I appreciate you taking the time to get together and will be pleased to go over all the items on the agenda.
And to begin, as you indicated I think President Trump will look forward to seeing you in Paris, on the sidelines of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. Because despite our differences, which exist because of our different national interests, it is still important to work in areas where there is a possibility of mutual cooperation.
And I had discussions with all of your senior national security advisors in the past two days, and again, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak with you on behalf of President Trump. And hopefully, I’ll have some answers for you, but I didn’t bring any olives.
Vladimir Putin: My thoughts exactly.
John Bolton: The olive branch is held in the right talon of the eagle, demonstrating its priority.
Vladimir Putin: If I remember correctly, there is also an inscription: In Varietate Concordia, United in Diversity. This is why, despite different approaches, we can and should look for points of contact.
John Bolton: That’s very much our intention, though our motto is “E pluribus unum,” “Out of many, one,” so maybe it is something to look forward to there.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.