President Boris Yeltsin’s chief spokesman said yesterday that the Russian leader believes it is time for the country’s parliament to ratify the START II nuclear arms treaty. According to Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Yeltsin believes that ratification will improve U.S.-Russian relations, while further delays will hinder both implementation of Russia’s military reform program and Russian-U.S. efforts to reach agreement on additional cuts in nuclear weaponry. However, the First Deputy Speaker of the Russian Duma, Vladimir Ryzhkov, told reporters that consideration of the START II treaty is not among the lower house’s top priorities during the just-launched spring session, and he suggested that considerable discussion will precede any ratification vote by the Duma. (AP, Itar-Tass, January 15)
The 1993 START II treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate in January of 1996, and Yeltsin promised U.S. president Bill Clinton during their summit meeting in Helsinki last March that he would work to push the treaty through the Duma. The Clinton Administration has more recently indicated its unwillingness to follow through on a summit meeting between the two presidents, planned for this year, until Russia ratifies the treaty. Discussion of a follow-up START III treaty is to be a topic of discussion at the next Yeltsin-Clinton meeting.
Luzhkov Says He Will Run for Re-Election.