Oct. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. national security adviser John Bolton rebuffed Russian President Vladimir Putin's appeal Tuesday not to follow Trump's plans to withdraw from an international nuclear treaty.
President Donald Trump announced his plans to pull out of the nuclear deal in place since the Cold War over the weekend, so the United States could build up its arsenal. The decision became the subject of talks during Bolton's three-day visit to Moscow, this week, including high-level talks with Putin Tuesday.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed between former President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, bans all land-based cruise missiles with a range between 310 and 3,417 miles. Trump said he was moving to abandon the treaty at least in part to counter a Chinese arms buildup in the Pacific and also since he claims Russia was not abiding by it.
The Kremlin denies it has violated any part of the agreement and says withdrawing from the treaty is a "dangerous" development that could spark a new arms race.
Putin chastised him with dark humor mocking the decision during his visit.
"As far as I can remember, the U.S. seal depicts an eagle on one side holding 13 arrows, and on the other side an olive branch with 13 olives," Putin said. "Here's the question, 'Did your eagle already eat all the olives and only the arrows are left?'"
"Hopefully I'll have some answers for you," Bolton replied. "But I didn't bring any more olives."
"That's what I thought," Putin said, as Bolton laughed.
Prior to the meeting, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged that "there are some weak spots," in the treaty, but added that withdrawing "without proposing anything new is obviously not what we would welcome."
Meanwhile, tensions between Moscow and Washington have been simmering over the U.S. intelligence community's belief Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
Bolton said in a news conference in Moscow that "we're obviously monitoring the potential foreign interference in our elections across the board very closely."
"FBI director Christopher Wray said about a month ago that we didn't detect anything like the level of involvement in 2016, but as you pointed out that could change with one keystroke," Bolton added.