Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 224

Word that the Russian lawmakers had attached a series of conditions to their new draft ratification bill–conditions under which Moscow would claim the right to withdraw unilaterally from the START II treaty–first surfaced late last month. One of those conditions stipulates that Moscow would withdraw from START II if NATO deploys nuclear weapons in new Eastern European member states. U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, who was in Moscow at the time, warned that a clause of that sort would be unacceptable to Washington.

But that warning appears to have gone unheeded. Yesterday’s reports provide no indication that Russian lawmakers have reworded the draft treaty to take Washington’s likely concerns into account. The Russian draft treaty apparently still claims the right to withdraw from START II if, for example, Washington violates the 1972 ABM Treaty. Withdrawal would also occur if the United States, NATO or other countries party to START II take actions which are deemed to threaten Russia’s security. The Duma bill apparently also continues to make ratification–and observance–of START II contingent on a commitment by the Russian government to build up and maintain Russia’s own nuclear forces (Russian agencies, November 19; see also the Monitor, November 20).

While the Kremlin and Russia’s Foreign and Defense Ministries have long argued in favor of START II, the government’s latest efforts to win ratification of the treaty appear to stem in least in part from a belief that ratification will help Russia win foreign economic assistance from the West. Duma members, however, were reportedly convinced finally to act on the government’s recommendations as a result of a study, sent to lawmakers by Maslyukov, which laid out in stark terms the enormity of the problems facing Russia’s strategic forces and the benefits that START II would bring (Washington Post, November 19).