Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 96

During their meeting in Birmingham, Clinton had also received assurances from Yeltsin that the Kremlin would intensify its efforts to win ratification of the START II strategic arms treaty (see the Monitor, May 18). However, two leading members of the lower house of the Russian parliament indicated yesterday that ratification is still no sure thing. In remarks to reporters, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said that he could see no reason for the Duma to vote in favor of ratification. Zyuganov listed three reasons for his opposition to the treaty: the disintegration of Russia’s conventional forces and defense complex (a development that, according to Zyuganov, enhances the importance of Russia’s nuclear deterrent); the failure of the Kremlin to adopt a national security concept; and NATO’s eastward enlargement.

The leader of Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party also said yesterday that the chances for ratification are slim. According to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the overwhelming majority of the members of the Russian Duma’s Defense Committee oppose the treaty, while many other deputies also continue to have negative feelings toward it. (Russian news agencies, May 18) Russia’s Defense and Foreign Ministries have argued energetically in favor of START II, as has the Kremlin. There have also been some signs of late that lawmakers might finally approve the 1993 treaty. Some observers have suggested, however, that the chances for START II ratification have suffered because of the recent sharp confrontation between president and parliament over approval of Russia’s new prime minister and government.