Russian State Duma to discuss Russia-US agreements on Strategic Offensive Arms Reduction

The Russian State Duma (the lower house of parliament) will hold closed-door parliamentary hearings "On New Agreements Between Russia and the USA in Strategic Offensive Weapons Reduction." The Treaty on Reducing Strategic Offensive Arms was signed on May 24th this year by presidents of Russia and the USA, Vladimir Putin and George Bush in Moscow.

On June 20th, the US president submitted the text of the treaty for ratification to US Senate, and called upon the senators to ensure that the treaty should be considered rapidly and in a favourable atmosphere, and that a consent to its ratification be given. The next day, the text of the treaty and commentaries to its articles were forwarded to the ad-hoc committees of the State Duma and the Federation Council (the upper house of parliament).

On September 12th, during the working session of the State Duma committee on international affairs devoted to the ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, deputy chairman of the committee Konstantin Kosachev assured that the treaty will be submitted for ratification to the State Duma before the end of September. According to him, the State Duma received information that the American Senate is going to consider the question on ratification of this treaty till the November election to Senate and the election to Congress.

"We decided to consider the ratification of this document independently from the process of its ratification in the USA and will strive to discuss it at a State Duma plenary session before the end of the year," the deputy pointed out.

At the first session of the Russian-US consultative group on strategic stability, held on September 20th in Washington, the US State Secretary, Colin Powell confirmed that the US Senate and the Russian State Duma may ratify the treaty till the end of the year. Powell pointed to a good progress with respect to the ratification of the Treaty.

At the same time, Russian defence minister Sergei Ivanov said shortly before his visit to the USA that the Russian and US parliamentarians might oppose the ratification of the treaty.

The minister stressed that "there are no contradictions on the ratification of the Treaty between Russia and the USA." These contradictions may exist only in US Senate and the Russian State Duma, he continued. However, Sergei Ivanov noted, these contradictions may be only of a political nature since elections are coming nearer or since one of the sides would like to strike its own attitude. The minister admits that there can be counteraction to the ratification of the treaty but he does not think that Russia or the USA will thwart it.

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