The White House might drop plans for President Obama to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin later this year as ties grow frosty between Washington and Moscow, government insiders said for a Thursday New York Times report.
Their latest tensions center on Russia's hesitancy to extradite a former intelligence contractor for leaking secrets about U.S. surveillance activities -- monitoring that Obama administration officials say has helped thwart terrorism plots. However, differences with Moscow have also festered over proposed nuclear arms curbs, planned antimissile deployments and the civil war in Syria.
U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) this week voiced alarm over recent press claims that Russia is in breach of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The Kremlin last month said it was still in compliance but that "could not last forever."
“Given the behavior of Russia, I think it is at best naïve to think that we’re going to be able to negotiate any kind of further [nuclear arms] reductions, which I would oppose,” Ayotte said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, top Defense Department officials on Thursday said the government would respond to the recent classified leak by instituting safeguards for sensitive computer operations much like those it uses for nuclear weapons activities. One new rule would ban personnel from working alone with high-value cyber assets, the Times reported.
"When it comes to nuclear weapons, you watch people's behavior in a special way. We don't let people all by themselves do anything," the Associated Press quoted Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter as saying on Thursday. "There is always some aberrant individual and you've got to recognize that."