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November 14, 2001
Duma Leaders Share Impressions of Russo-American Summit
By Yelena Roudneva

The majority of the leaders of the political factions in the Russian State Duma (lower chamber) consider that the on-going US-Russian summit in the United States is proceeding successfully and say that it is hardly a surprise that so far little progress has been achieved on deciding the future of the ABM Treaty.

The leaders of practically all the major factions, with the exception of the Unity faction, shared their first impressions of the US - Russian summit with Gazeta.Ru

Gennady Seleznyov, chairman of the State Duma:

I welcome the proposal on strategic arms reductions announced yesterday (Tuesday, November 13) at the meeting between the two presidents (Bush and Putin).

One needs to preserve the amount of weapons necessary only to ensure security on our planet.

Further on, it is for specialists to decide to which level the number of weapons should be reduced.

Alexei Arbatov, Yabloko faction deputy, member of the State Duma Defence Committee:

The announcement on the reduction of strategic offensive weapons implies that the political atmosphere at the meeting is favourable, but, as for the essence of the issue, there is nothing new in that.

Putin had already suggested that both parties cut their weapons to 1.5 thousand warheads each.

Also, Bush had said the USA would unilaterally reduce arms.

I would like to remind you that back in 1997 the former heads of our states signed a framework agreement calling for (the signing of) START-3, under which arms should have been reduced to 2 thousand (warheads each). Therefore, at their first meeting the presidents (Bush and Putin) said nothing new.

Obviously the USA is maintaining its stance and is insisting that the 1972 ABM Treaty be abandoned by both parties, whilst strategic arms should be reduced unilaterally without signing any additional agreements.

Russia's position remains unchanged: the treaty should be preserved, but amended so as to allow for the creation of a limited anti-missile defence against "rogue" countries and terrorists.

And strategic offensive weapons could be reduced to a lower level within the framework of a new treaty that could be concluded quite promptly given the present-day spirit of partnership (between the two states).

The US position is moving gradually in Russia's direction. They are no longer speaking of unilateral abandonment of the ABM treaty. But so far all that remains are mere statements; no specific agreements have been achieved.

Gennady Raikov, leader of People's Deputy Group:

The meeting shows that there is normal dialogue. The American media had most likely hoped that somebody would have to lie under another, (Raikov uses a slang expression meaning "to submit to, to obey demands of another"). But that has not happened.

Today the two presidents are maintaining dialogue on a par. And, as yet, there is no need for them to reach any specific agreements.

At first, people usually start with friendship and only afterwards they have children.

It is vitally important to reduce the nuclear potential of the planet since our globe is very small and nobody knows where an explosion may occur.

But the problem is how to prevent other states from proliferating nuclear weapons. Take Pakistan. If the Taliban occupies it, they will be the ones to use it (nuclear weapons). For they are kamikazes!

Boris Nemtsov, leader of the Union of the Rightist Forces (SPS):

The decision on the reduction of the nuclear potential first and foremost suits the interests of our nation.

The world has accrued such enormous stockpiles of weapons that if to make a split in the Earth and to put all arms inside the planet would break apart. .

One or two thousand warheads, in this case it does not matter. What is important is a tendency.

Secondly, Russia's national military doctrine provides for the development of ground forces and the creation of mobile army units for neutralizing local conflicts.

Probably, arms reduction will release funds needed for more intensive development in that sphere and for the creation of a strong professional army.

Viktor Pokhmelkin, deputy chairman of the Union of the Rightist Forces (SPS):

I nevertheless hope that the cool atmosphere of the first meeting will be overcome and Putin together with Bush will manage to reach strategically important agreements.

The fate of the world order and democracy not only in our two states, but in the world as a whole depends on that now.

Hopefully, the presidents will fully realise the responsibility and will, after all, manage to agree on a joint fight against terrorism, as well as on strategic arms reductions.

Vyacheslav Volodin, Fatherland-All-Russia (OVR) faction leader:

Bush's decision on strategic arms reductions is relevant. It was voiced in response to Russia's move to close (its military) bases in Cuba and in Cam Rahn (Vietnam). Indeed, that decision signifies the end of the Cold War. Gorbachev and Yeltsin received many compliments, but nothing was changing in the relations between two countries. Today a lot depends on those meetings (between presidents of US and Russia). We anticipate a breakthrough that would enable us to establish normal, friendly relations with America.

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