Russia moved a step closer to possible ratification of the START II strategic arms reduction treaty yesterday when President Boris Yeltsin officially informed Russian lawmakers that he had approved a Duma-drafted treaty ratification bill. The move should open the way to discussion of ratification by Russia’s lower house of parliament. Vladimir Lukin, head of the Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee and one of the key players in the drafting of the ratification bill, said yesterday that, while approval of the treaty is not ensured, the “chances for START II ratification are now higher than at any time in the past.”
Lukin appeared also to indicate yesterday that the Kremlin had made few, if any, changes to the text of the ratification bill submitted to Yeltsin by the Duma (AP, Russian agencies, March 22). That suggests the debate over ratification could proceed with some speed. But it also means that a series of conditions attached by lawmakers to the ratification and observance of the START II treaty–including continued U.S. compliance with the 1972 ABM treaty–remain in place. Some of those conditions, in turn, are likely to generate objections in the United States, a development which could further complicate Russian-U.S. efforts to move forward on arms control.
MASKHADOV NOW SAYS MOSCOW WAS NOT BEHIND ATTEMPT ON HIS LIFE.