Vladimir Lukin, a moderate in the Duma who favors ratification of the START II Treaty, suggested January 31 that it might nevertheless be best to postpone any ratification vote until after the upcoming presidential election. Lukin argued that the issue had become too politicized in Russia and that he "would rather have this important treaty ratified after the election than have it rejected before the vote." (3)
Signed by Yeltsin and then U.S. President George Bush in January 1993, the START II Treaty commits both countries to reducing their strategic nuclear warheads to between 3,000 and 3,500 by the year 2003. It also bans all land-based multiple warhead nuclear weapons. The reductions embodied in START II offer any number of benefits to Moscow, not least of which is the potential for budgetary savings. Russia has struggled to finance its current strategic nuclear force and may be hard-pressed in coming years to maintain those forces even at the reduced levels envisioned by START II. It was for this reason, as well as for its more obvious potential to increase strategic stability, that Russian political and military leaders generally supported START II. But that support began last to erode last summer after talk in Washington of U.S. deployment of ballistic missile defense systems that Moscow said would violate the 1972 ABM Treaty. The pace of that erosion has accelerated since the election last December of a parliament dominated by Communists and nationalists, a tendency that seems unlikely to change during Russia’s current presidential campaign.
Defense Industrial Lobby Grows Stronger