National Security Adviser John Bolton is in Russia, and it was announced Wednesday that he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other top officials in order to discuss relations and lay the groundwork for a potential summit with President Donald Trump.
“Your visit here to Moscow inspires hope that we will be able to take first steps to restore full-fledged relations between Russia and the United States,” Putin told Bolton. “Russia never sought confrontation, and I hope that today we will be able to talk about what we can do from both sides in order to restore full-fledged relations on the foundation of equality and of respect for each other’s interests.”
Bolton said he hoped the two nations could find “areas where we can agree and make progress together,” adding that he wanted to hear “about how you handled the World Cup so successfully.”
The White House confirmed Bolton’s meeting with Putin.
“While in Moscow today, Ambassador Bolton is meeting with President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian officials to discuss United States-Russia relations, as well the potential for a Presidential meeting,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted Wednesday.
While in Moscow today, Ambassador Bolton is meeting with President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian officials to discuss United States-Russia relations, as well the potential for a Presidential meeting.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) June 27, 2018
Earlier this week, it was announced that Bolton would meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.
The trip to Russia and meeting with Lavrov are expected to lay the groundwork for an upcoming meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“And I think it’s likely President Trump will be meeting with his counterpart in the not too distant future following that meeting,” Pompeo said in an MSNBC interview.
It was recently reported that Trump is going to plan a meeting with Putin in July while he is visiting Europe. That meeting could take place before the NATO summit in Brussels on July 11 or after Trump’s visit to Great Britain on July 13.
After Trump’s recent announcement ordering the creation of a Space Force – what is to be the U.S. Armed Forces’ sixth military branch – Russia lashed out, saying that it considers the move to be an aggression that creates “a military confrontation in outer space.”
Moscow believes that there could be disastrous implications if the U.S. establishes a Space Force and compared it to the nuclear race, which began after WWII.
A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman was not shy about Russia’s opinion of the Space Force.
“The purpose of the instruction was described in very clear terms — dominance in space. A military confrontation in outer space could have the same destructive effects as the nuclear race into which the United States plunged the world after WWII,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
Officials from the Pentagon insist that creating a Space Force will help deter potential attacks in the future.
“If the U.S. is to avoid a ‘Space Pearl Harbor,’ it needs to take seriously the possibility of an attack on the U.S. space system,” a Pentagon report said.
President Trump feels that launching a Space Force now will help the U.S. stay ahead of Russia and China.
“We don’t want China and Russia and other countries leading us. When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space,” President Trump said.
Analysts are concerned that rivals may look to space as a potential weak link to attack the U.S. as it becomes increasingly dependent on satellites and other space-based infrastructure.
“They understand the dependencies that we have on space and so they’re developing capabilities for how to counter that, whether it’s a direct-energy weapon that is terrestrial, whether it is a co-orbital attack satellite, whether it’s jamming from the ground,” Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, the Defense Intelligence Agency director, said in March.
Russia claims that it only wants space to be used for “peaceful purposes” but also plans to launch a similar space-based military force to counter Trump’s requested Space Force.
“As for those who wish to know more about Russia’s military space force, I’d like to stress that its nature is purely defensive. Our country is not interested in tackling any tasks in space with the use of attack weapons. A military buildup in space, in particular, after the deployment of weapons there, would have destabilizing effects on strategic stability and international security. Russia takes a fundamentally different position and attaches priority to using and exploring space exclusively for peaceful purposes,” Zakharova said.
China is also opposed to Trump’s decision to establish a Space Force and said, “we oppose turning outer space into a battlefield.”