No rush to ratify START-II agreement

Publish date: November 19, 1996

Written by: Igor Kudrik

Resistance to the START-II agreement has hardened in the Russian State Duma. One of the leaders from the liberal Yabloko faction and chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, Vladimir Lukin, says to The Moscow Times that "the Duma is not going to rush ratify START-II while NATO is preparing to expand and the U.S. is working on plans to deploy a national anti-ballistic missile defence system." Lukin also said that START-II is a controversial treaty that will give the United States too big an advantage, since Russia will not have the money to deploy additional land-based single-warhead ballistic missiles to reach its START-II 3000 warhead quota by the year 2003. Lukin believes that ratifying START-II will destroy the existing U.S.-Russia strategic balance and this "could lead some foreign powers to be tempted to attack Russia."

The former Russian defence and foreign ministries, Pavel Grachev and Andrei Kozyrev, were making reassuring noises that the battle for the ratification could be won sooner or later, especially after the season of Russian parliamentary and presidental elections had ended. Grachev and Kozyrev approved the START-II agreement. The present foreign minister, Yevgeny Primakov, and defence minister, Igor Rodionov, are not personally committed to START-II. Official government attempts to lobby the Duma into ratifying the agreement have become perfunctory, while resistance to the treaty has hardened and consolidated.

The problems with the ratification of the START-II agreement can delay the decommissioning of strategical nuclear-powered submarines of the Delta – class. The Northern Fleet has 18 Delta – class submarines in operation today.