In remarks made at a Russian military training facility in Astrakhan region, acting Defense Minister Igor Sergeev has in recent days underscored the need both for Russia’s parliament to ratify the START II treaty and for the United States and Russia then to move forward in negotiating a follow-up START III agreement. Sergeev, a former commander of Russia’s strategic rocket forces, also claimed that a number of Russian parliamentarians now support the START II treaty. He suggested–some would say with excessive optimism–that ratification might not be far off. (Russian agencies, September 2-3)
Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton had hoped that Russian ratification of START II would come before their recent summit meeting so that they might step up efforts to draft the START III agreement. But ratification of START II remains one of the few areas in which Russian lawmakers can effectively defy the Kremlin. They have thus far chosen to exercise that defiance by refusing to consider the treaty. Lawmakers seem unlikely to soften that position until a political accommodation is hammered out between the parliament and the president. Russia’s Defense Ministry has long argued in favor of START II ratification.
UNRESTRICTED ENLARGEMENT OF NATO URGED.