Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 65

Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Acting Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov yesterday each called for ratification by Russia’s parliament of the START II strategic arms reduction treaty. According to the Russian presidential press service, Yeltsin exhorted both the Defense and Foreign Ministries to cooperate with Russia’s parliament in an effort to win approval of the treaty. Yeltsin’s remarks came during a meeting with acting Defense Minister Igor Sergeev at the president’s Rus residence. Yeltsin has said that he wants to retain Sergeev in Russia’s new government.

Primakov’s remarks followed talks in Moscow with the foreign minister of Belarus. The Russian minister, who has also been tipped by Yeltsin to remain in his post, said that ratification of START II served Russia’s own internal interests as well as those of international stability. He said that the Foreign and Defense Ministries together would do all they could to convince lawmakers to approve the treaty. (Russian agencies, April 2)

Members of Russia’s Duma have cited several reasons to date in explaining their reluctance to ratify START II. One of the most frequently mentioned has been NATO’s planned enlargement. But lawmakers have also complained that the government has thus far failed to make a compelling case for ratification, or even to provide the detailed information needed by the Duma in its deliberations. The Kremlin has promised on several occasions to step up its battle to win ratification. The most recent came during former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin’s recent visit to the United States — and it may now be moving to fulfill those pledges. The Clinton administration has indicated it will postpone a Moscow-Washington summit, which had been tentatively scheduled for this spring, until ratification takes place.

The commander of the U.S. Strategic command, General Eugene Habiger, recently expressed optimism that Russia would ratify START II as soon as June or July. His remarks followed a visit to the United States by the commander in chief of Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces, Colonel General Vladimir Yakovlev. The Russian general had himself predicted ratification in a matter of months. (AP, March 20, 31)

Greek Minister Winds Up Russia Visit.