LEAK. Trump Tells Putin That U.S. Is Not Interested In Renewing "New START" Treaty

FILE - President Barack Obama, left, and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev sign the New START treaty at the Prague Castle in Prague in this, April 8, 2010 file photo. Obama is warning that failure to ratify a new arms control treaty with Russia will undercut American leadership on scores of challenges it faces worldwide. Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday Dec. 18, 2010 to plead with the Senate to approve the treaty, a dearly held foreign policy priority in the waning days of Congress' lame-duck session.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Another day, another leak. This one is concerns the call Donald Trump had with Vladimir Putin on January 28.

In his first call as president with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump denounced a treaty that caps U.S. and Russian deployment of nuclear warheads as a bad deal for the United States, according to two U.S. officials and one former U.S. official with knowledge of the call.

When Putin raised the possibility of extending the 2010 treaty, known as New START, Trump paused to ask his aides in an aside what the treaty was, these sources said.

Trump then told Putin the treaty was one of several bad deals negotiated by the Obama administration, saying that New START favored Russia. Trump also talked about his own popularity, the sources said.

The White House declined to comment. It referred Reuters to the official White House account issued after the Jan. 28 call, which did not mention the discussion about New START.

The phone call with Putin has added to concerns that Trump is not adequately prepared for discussions with foreign leaders.

Typically, before a telephone call with a foreign leader, a president receives a written in-depth briefing paper drafted by National Security Council staff after consultations with the relevant agencies, including the State Department, Pentagon and intelligence agencies, two former senior officials said.

Just before the call, the president also usually receives an oral “pre-briefing” from his national security adviser and top subject-matter aide, they said.

Trump did not receive a briefing from Russia experts with the NSC and intelligence agencies before the Putin call, two of the sources said. Reuters was unable to determine if Trump received a briefing from his national security adviser Michael Flynn.


When you’re dealing with leaks like this you know that the person leaking is trying to show Trump in the worst possible light. Admittedly, this is not a high bar to clear. It sort of beggars the imagination to think Trump would call Putin without some level of briefing on bilateral issues. But who knows? In this case the article implies that Trump was provided a briefing book on issues but didn’t receive a briefing from NSC Russia experts. The fact that we have this leak points a finger at who did the leaking — that would be the NSC Russia experts — and it also shows why Trump and Flynn may have bypassed them — because they are disloyal f**ks.

On the substance of the issue, Trump had the right message. New START is a horrible treaty negotiated by Hillary Clinton’s State Department which locks the US into an inferior position in terms of nuclear weapons particularly when we are in a great position to repeat Reagan’s Cold War strategy of spending Moscow into the dirt. Russia is a declining power that has nearly reached Third World status and any bilateral treaty with Russia works to our strategic disadvantage.


When New START was proposed it was widely opposed by conservatives and the GOP. (see this and this and this).

Putting aside whatever merits New START has, Russia has been demonstrated, time and again, to be an unreliable treaty partner. Russia is currently in violation of New START and the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty. It makes as much sense negotiating another bad treaty with a regime that is incapable of honesty as it does to give Iran money and nuclear technology.


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