President-elect Donald Trump plans to offer reduced sanctions on Russia in exchange for a nuclear arms reduction deal, but he also expressed criticism with Russia’s policies in the Middle East.
Trump mulled the idea of ending sanctions placed on Russia due to its illegal annexation of Crimea and support of separatists in Ukraine in exchange for a nuclear agreement. If pursued, it would be the first such agreement since President Barack Obama signed the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in 2010.
“They have sanctions on Russia — let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia,” said Trump in the interview with The Times of London, which was published Monday. “For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it. But Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit.”
The U.S. and Russia are the top nuclear powers in the world. Russia currently has 1,796 nuclear warheads deployed, while the U.S. lags behind with 1,367, according to U.S. Department of State data. Obama’s 2010 New START treaty curbed the amount of inter-continental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy bomber nuclear weapons each country can deploy at 700. The total number of warheads was curbed at 1,550 while only 800 launchers and bombers are allowed. Some reports claim Russia is violating the terms of the agreement.
Trump took a softer line on Russia during his campaign, and has suggested reaching a detente with Russian President Vladimir Putin in order to fight terrorism. That said, the Republican president-elect did criticize Russia’s intervention in Syria.
“I think it’s a very rough thing,” said Trump in the interview. “Aleppo has been such a terrible humanitarian situation.”
Trump also criticized the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but noted it was still important.
“A lot of these countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to be paying, which I think is very unfair to the United States,” said Trump. “A lot of these countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to be paying, which I think is very unfair to the United States.”
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