Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 196

In Moscow, meanwhile, there has been a renewed effort by Russian diplomats to keep international pressure on the United States by getting Russia’s own house in order with regard to international disarmament measures. Russian Foreign Ministry sources said on October 12 that the ministry’s leadership intends to launch a major push aimed at convincing Russian lawmakers to ratify the long-languishing START II treaty prior to parliamentary elections in December. The sources were open in stating that they will try to convince lawmakers that approval of the treaty will greatly increase Russia’s international prestige while simultaneously weakening those in the United States who are pushing for missile defense (Russian agencies, October 12).

The Russian Foreign Ministry appears to be taking a similar approach to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said yesterday that the Russian government is prepared to present the treaty to parliament for ratification. He appeared to suggest that parliamentary approval of the treaty by Russia would contrast nicely with Washington’s rejection of the accord (Russian agencies, October 21).

Such logic, of course, does not ensure that ratification of either the START II or the CTBT treaty will be automatically forthcoming in Russia. At the least, reluctant Russian lawmakers are likely to continue linking START II approval to a commitment by the United States to remain in compliance with the ABM accord. And the CTBT treaty could run into opposition from Russian generals who want to retain the option of resuming weapons testing. This would be especially true if Russia and the United States fail to resolve their differences over the ABM accord, and Moscow moves to beef up its own strategic forces to counter U.S. missile defense plans.

That U.S.-Russian talks on the ABM treaty appear to be going nowhere was suggested by reports yesterday that both preceded and followed a session between Russian and U.S. negotiators in Moscow. Although Clinton Administration officials have suggested that the Russian side is engaging in the negotiations constructively (UPI, October 21), Russian government officials yesterday again denied that they have any intention of accommodating U.S. hopes of revising the ABM accord. There was little information made available at the close of yesterday’s talks, which were closed to reporters. The two sides are expected to resume the negotiations today (Russian and Western agencies, October 21).