During their talks yesterday in Brussels, Primakov and Albright also discussed arms control, and Primakov reportedly expressed optimism that Russia’s parliament would ratify the START II treaty sometime next year. The 1993 Treaty, which would reduce U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals to a maximum of 3,500 warheads each, has been ratified by the U.S. Senate. But the treaty has generated considerable opposition in the Russian parliament, where lawmakers have linked it to NATO enlargement and described it in general as disadvantageous for Russia.
Primakov’s optimism was reflected also by an influential Russian lawmaker yesterday. The Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Vladimir Lukin told reporters that the country’s lower house would soon begin dealing with the treaty, and that future debates on it were likely to be less politicized than they have been in the past. He also called for the immediate launching of efforts to draft a follow-up START III treaty that, he said, would reduce the number of warheads on each side to between 1,000 and 1,500. (Reuter, Itar-Tass, December 17)
Speaking to reporters yesterday in Washington, U.S. president Bill Clinton said that he would not travel to Moscow for a planned meeting with Russian president Boris Yeltsin until the Russian Duma ratifies the START II treaty. Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky downplayed the importance of Clinton’s statement, saying that it came as no surprise to Moscow. (AP, Itar-Tass, December 17)
Yeltsin Expected Back at Work by the New Year.