The speaker of Russia’s Duma yesterday accused U.S. president Bill Clinton of attempting to intimidate Russia into ratifying the START II treaty, and warned that pressure from the U.S. could lead the Duma to reject ratification. The comments by Gennady Seleznev followed a press conference in Washington one day earlier during which Clinton said that he would not travel to Russia for a planned meeting with Russian president Boris Yeltsin until the arms control treaty is ratified. Seleznev called Clinton’s statement "challenging and outrageous," and observed that Russia’s lower house has still not fixed a date for consideration of the treaty to begin. A foreign policy spokesman for the Russian president’s office said yesterday only that the Russian side had agreed that it makes sense to schedule the Clinton-Yeltsin meeting after ratification. (Russian news agencies, December 18)
During talks in Brussels on December 17 Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov had indicated to his U.S. counterpart, Madeleine Albright, that ratification of the START II treaty might at last be forthcoming in the new year. An influential Russian parliamentarian, Vladimir Lukin, also expressed some optimism on that score in comments made the same day. (Reuter, Itar-Tass, December 17; see also yesterday’s Monitor)
Russia Criticizes Arrests in Bosnia.