Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 28

The Russian State Duma may be set to consider the START II arms reduction treaty next month, but there is little reason to believe that any significant progress toward ratification will be forthcoming. In remarks to reporters yesterday, Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin said that the question of START II ratification would likely be submitted for discussion in March. But he said that he was “skeptical” of the treaty’s chances for approval.

Defense Committee Chairman Roman Popkovich, who supports ratifying the treaty, spoke in similar terms yesterday. He suggested that the main barrier to ratification right now is not–as might have been expected–the recent U.S. decision to move forward on missile defense. It is instead the Russian government’s failure to provide either a plan for the development of Russia’s strategic forces or readily available information as to how START II reductions would be financed. On the first count, Popkovich said that the Defense Committee has prepared a draft law on financing for the country’s strategic forces but that the government has yet to react to it. The government has, apparently, provided information on financing START II reductions. But, according to Popkovich, it has classified the document and thus made its dissemination to Duma deputies more difficult (Russian agencies, February 9).

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, meanwhile, said yesterday that the government continues to support START II ratification and will resume its efforts to lobby lawmakers to move forward on the treaty. Ivanov intimated that the government would argue that the continuing failure to ratify the treaty strengthens the position of those in the United States who favor development of a ballistic missile defense and a possible renunciation of the 1972 ABM treaty (NTV, February 9).