Russian Duma Threats Race Should Not Deter Due Diligence on New START

Ariel Cohen /

Boris Gryzlov, Speaker of Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, said on Saturday that if the U.S. Senate moves to amend the text of New START, a strategic offensive arms treaty between the two countries, the Duma will also be ready to make amendments to the text of the treaty. Gryzlov could also be referring to reservations or understandings attached to the instrument of ratification, just as Senate Foreign Relations Committee did. This comes atop the Duma’s International Affairs Committee delay last month to consider the legislation that would authorize the ratification of New START by the full Duma.

The Duma’s actions raise questions the Obama Administration should answer before the Senate considers the treaty. What remains unclear are the commitments the Obama Administration negotiators made to the Russians that apparently Duma members feel may not be honored. The most significant example is the potential limitations on ballistic missile defense options contained in the Preamble, the body, the protocol, and annexes of New START. (more…)