Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Primakov Suggests a Conditional START

Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov said Wednesday that the State Duma could attach conditions to ratification of the START II nuclear arms reduction treaty.

"We hope that it will be ratified by the Duma," Primakov said in the Belarussian capital Minsk. "Naturally, the Duma could be obliged to add some conditions. But we hope the essence of the pact will not be subject to revision. That could send us backwards."

Primakov was speaking to reporters at Minsk airport after two days of talks with leaders of Belarus. He arrived later in the day in Ukraine.

In Moscow, the head of the Duma's foreign affairs committee said the chamber was unlikely to meet President Boris Yeltsin's deadline of ratification by April, when leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations hold a Moscow summit on nuclear issues. Vladimir Lukin, who is also a leader of the liberal Yabloko faction in the Duma, said such a deadline was unacceptable because it was wrong to link policy to specific events.

"If we are talking about April, this seems unacceptable," Lukin said. "I am definitely opposed to setting dates because a policy matched to certain occasions is wrong."

The U.S. Senate approved the 1993 treaty last Friday. It obliges the United States and Russia to cut their strategic arsenals to about two thirds of Cold War levels by 2003.

Yeltsin responded on Saturday by pledging to persuade the Duma to ratify the treaty by April's summit.

Lukin, a former Russian ambassador to the United States and a critic of former foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev's pro-Western course, said the START II treaty was "very useful for Russia." But he said ratifying it too quickly would lead to confusion and rejecting it could set back Moscow's hopes of maintaining or regaining its superpower status.