The Russian government launched, on June 5, its latest effort to win ratification of the START II strategic arms treaty as a group of ministers held a closed door meeting with lawmakers at the State Duma. Representing the government were Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, Defense Minister Igor Sergeev, Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov and Foreign Intelligence Service deputy chief Gennady Yevstafev. Also on June 5, Russian President Boris Yeltsin met with Primakov to discuss START II ratification. According to presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Yeltsin ordered Russia’s powerful Security Council to convene as soon as possible in order to consider ways in which Russian lawmakers might be convinced to ratify the 1993 treaty. START II has already been approved by the U.S. Senate.
The Kremlin’s June 5 efforts appeared to bear little fruit. According to Duma speaker Gennady Seleznev, the lawmakers and ministers were able to agree only that they would continue their consultations on the ratification issue. In that vein, some reports said that lawmakers would hold another meeting with government ministers and experts at the headquarters of Russia’s General Staff on June 16. Reports last week had suggested that the meeting at the General Staff would take place on June 9. (See the Monitor, June 3) In a further reflection of the Duma’s reluctance to move on the treaty, Seleznev reiterated that the Duma will not debate ratification of START II during its summer session, which will end in mid-July. That debate will apparently be delayed until September. “We do not think that one should engage in some sort of disarmament race,” Seleznev told reporters. (Reuter, Russian agencies, June 5)
START II RATIFICATION TO BE LINKED TO MILITARY REFORM?