Senate Dems urge Trump to continue nuclear arms control negotiations after treaty suspension

A group of 26 Senate Democrats is urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE to continue arms control negotiations following the administration's threat last week to pull out of a landmark arms control treaty with Russia.

“We write out of deep concern that your administration is now abandoning generations of bipartisan U.S. leadership around the paired goals of reducing the global role and number of nuclear weapons and ensuring strategic stability with America's nuclear-armed adversaries," the lawmakers wrote to Trump in a letter delivered on Wednesday.

The letter was organized by Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall In shift, top CEOs say shareholder value not top goal MORE (D-Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters F-bombs away: Why lawmakers are cursing now more than ever White House offers reassurances amid recession fears as 2020 candidates sound alarm MORE (D-N.Y.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility Senate Dem seeks answers from DHS on reports of pregnant asylum seekers sent back to Mexico Schumer backs Pelosi as impeachment roils caucus MORE (D-Ore.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyJoseph Kennedy mulling primary challenge to Markey in Massachusetts Overnight Energy: Trump sparks new fight over endangered species protections | States sue over repeal of Obama power plant rules | Interior changes rules for ethics watchdogs To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies MORE (D-Mass.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinTrump administration urges Congress to reauthorize NSA surveillance program The Hill's Morning Report - More talk on guns; many questions on Epstein's death Juan Williams: We need a backlash against Big Tech MORE (D-Calif.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharEight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report Poll: Nearly 4 in 5 say they will consider candidates' stances on cybersecurity MORE (D-Minn.).

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced last week that the Trump administration would suspend its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 60 days if Russia did not fall back in line with the pact. Signed in 1987, the nuclear arms agreement is meant to keep Russia and the U.S. from developing and testing any land-based cruise missiles with a range between 310 and 3,410 miles.

NATO ministers have agreed unanimously that Moscow was in violation of the treaty, while Russia denies it is in violation of the pact.

In response to the 60-day suspension, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia would begin to develop the disputed nuclear weapons if the U.S. withdraws.

“To put us on a safer path, we urge you to redouble diplomatic efforts to preserve the [INF Treaty] rather than simply terminating it,” the letter states.

The lawmakers add that the United States should address Russia’s violation of the treaty “by vigorously exploring a diplomatic resolution in close concert with our allies,” as the country “still lacks a comprehensive strategy to address the security threats that would result from a collapse of the INF Treaty.”

The senators also call for an extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia, set to expire in February 2021. That treaty, which caps the number of deployed nuclear warheads for each country, has the option for a five-year extension.

Abandoning New START “would free Russia to expand its capacity to directly threaten the entire U.S. homeland,” the lawmakers warn.

In addition, the group expresses concern about the administration's continued development of low-yield nuclear weapons.

“Your administration's efforts to double down on new, unnecessary nuclear weapons while scrapping mutually beneficial treaties risks the United States sliding into another arms race with Russia and erodes U.S. nonproliferation efforts around the world,” they write.

The Trump administration’s threat to pull out of INF is one of several recent developments that have peaked U.S.-Russia tension in recent weeks.

Washington has also called out Moscow for its actions against Ukraine near the Sea of Azov. Russia fired on Ukrainian ships as they tried to transit the Kerch Strait, which links the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea. Several crew members were injured, and Russia seized three ships and detained the sailors on board.