Only days after the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved the 1993 START II Treaty, opposition to ratification has begun to simmer in the Russian parliament. Parliamentary leaders from both the Communist and Liberal Democratic parties yesterday linked their reservations about the treaty directly to planned NATO expansion, arguing that the latter would alter the geostrategic conditions under which the treaty was signed. NATO enlargement, Gennady Zyuganov said, "violates the balance of conventional forces, destroys agreements already reached, and raises the question of how to compensate for this." Zyuganov has commissioned party experts on military issues to assess the treaty and said the Communist party’s ultimate stance would depend upon their conclusions. (1)
Aleksei Mitrofanov, Liberal Democrat chairman of the Duma Geopolitics Committee, told reporters that Russia was compelled to reexamine the value of START II in light of possible deployment of nuclear weapons on the territory of new NATO member states bordering Russia. Expert testimony on the treaty given before Mitrofanov’s committee was not made available to reporters. (2) Talk of the need for a new, exhaustive review of treaty provisions made doubtful ratification by the April deadline set by President Boris Yeltsin. Duma chairman Gennady Seleznev suggested the ratification process would be lengthy, noting that the treaty text would be translated "letter by letter, comma by comma" and that voting would only follow examination of the treaty in the Duma defense and security committees. The deputy chairman of the Defense Committee, Gen. Nikolai Bezborodov, did support the treaty, saying ratification was in the national interest, as did Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky. Given its economic problems, Yavlinsky said Russia stood to gain more than anyone from early approval of START II and suggested that Yeltsin address the parliament on the need for ratification. (3)
…While Prospective NATO Members Meet in Brussels.