US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to hold talks with Russian counterpart

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, today on the sidelines of the

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Photo: AP

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, today on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Since the two last met in May, Washington, citing Russian noncompliance, withdrew from the landmark, bilateral 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which limited the use of nuclear and conventional medium-range weapons.

Fears that the collapse of the treaty would spark an arms race between the US and Russia so far appear to be well founded. Last month the US tested a conventionally configured cruise missile that hit a target more than 500 kilometres away, a test that would have violated the INF treaty. Likewise, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced earlier this month that Russia would produce missiles that were banned under the treaty.

The direction discussions go today could hint as to whether or not this nascent strategic arms race will escalate. No serious discussion on extending New START—a treaty reducing the number of Russian and US strategic nuclear missile launchers, which is set to expire in 2021—combined with continued blame gaming over which country is responsible for the collapse of the INF will be good indicators that the arms race is likely to continue.

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