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#3 - JRL 7135
Top Russian MPs urge early ratification of US arms cuts treaty

Moscow, 8 April: There is no point in delaying ratification of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty [SORT], also known as the Moscow Treaty between Russia and the United States, regardless of what is happening in Iraq, according to prominent members of the State Duma, or the lower house of Russian parliament.

Deputy Speaker Vladimir Lukin, for one, thinks that ratification of SORT should not be put off for a long time. He is confident that the treaty will be ratified before the end of the current spring session. "This treaty is no less beneficial for Russia than for the United States as it implies the maintenance of a balance in the strategic field between our two countries," Lukin said.

It is in Russia's interest to see prompt ratification by the State Duma of SORT, according to the house defence committee chairman, Andrey Nikolayev. "An unfavourable backdrop for the move is still there in connection with the situation around Iraq, but there is no point in delaying the ratification," Nikolayev stressed.

Deputy chairman of the Duma committee for international affairs Konstantin Kosachev, for his part, stressed that it is necessary to put ratification of the treaty to a vote in the lower house "without any delays or tying it down to the speed or timeframe of the US operation in Iraq."

According to Kosachev, the Duma international affairs committee has a well-considered opinion that there is no, and there will be no, artificial procrastination over ratification in the State Duma.

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