Dr. Alexei G. Arbatov, Deputy Chairman, Committee on Defense Russian Federation Duma

Question and Answer Session

May 9, 2000 at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Putin can control the Russian domestic environment and he can provide consistency for arms control agreements, which Russia may engage in with other countries. Neither of these two characteristics were true of the Yeltsin Regime, during the 1990s. That is good news and certainly a very important change. But there is bad news, and let me talk about it in much greater detail.

The bad news is that ratification of START II and part of CTBT in Russia was motivated by interest and arguments and commitments that may not be very encouraging for the United States, and that may be objected to by many people in institutions in the United States. The future process may entail great new difficulties, which the two countries will have to overcome. There are three principal aspects of the "bad news" with respect to START II.

Let me start with the substance of this issue. It is an absolute fact, and a very deplorable fact, that START II was ratified in Russia by the Russian Parliament not because Russians think that the threat is lower, not because Russians think that nuclear weapons are less relevant, nor because the Russian Parliament and public opinion thinks that the United States will be a partner for cooperation and security. It’s is the other way around. START II was primarily ratified because Russian public and political elite thinks that the nuclear threat is great and that the United States is keen on achieving superiority. And that nuclear weapons are still as relevant as ever for Russian security and U.S.-Russian relations. The principal argument in favor of START II, which proved so instrumental, was that without START II Russians forces, with a shortage of funding, would go down in ten years to 1,000 warheads on their own. This is because old systems would be withdrawn and new systems would be introduced at a very low rate and in very small numbers. At the same time, the United States can easily afford to maintain the present level of its strategic forces. In this way, if there is no further arms control agreement, in ten years the United States may, inadvertently, acquire nuclear forces that are five or six times over that of Russia – basically free, without spending additional money. They may achieve the goal that proved to be impossible for them to achieve over five decades of Cold War.

That was the principal argument that persuaded many members of Parliament to vote for START II. These figures were officially given, many times in closed hearings and, eventually, during open sessions of parliament held by President Putin for the ratification of START II.

If Russia were to preserve its forces at the level of START I, which is six to seven thousand nuclear warheads, then during 10 years Russian would have to spend about $33 billion only on strategic nuclear forces and C3I systems. That is 950 billion rubles. It would mean spending 65% of its total defense budget yearly only on strategic nuclear forces. If Russia were to keep its forces at the level of START II, which is about 3,000 weapons, then it would have to spend $26 billion during the next ten years, which would annually account for about 50% of its overall defense budget. If Russia was to maintain its forces at the level agreed in the START III agreement, which is around 2,000 weapons, then we would have to spend $14 billion in the next ten years – which would be about 27% of our present budget.

That was the first time in an open hearing at a high official level that some description of the dynamic model of strategic balance -- which is basically a model of strategic exchange -- was revealed by President Putin. In particular, he said that under the first scenario, if the United States keeps its forces at the level of START I and Russia goes down because of shortage of funding, then in 10 years the American deterrent capability, that is a second strike capability, would be 15 times bigger than Russia’s second strike capability. At the level of START II the United States would have triple the superiority of Russia in the remaining delayed second strike retaliatory capability. Under START III there would be approximate parity between the two sides, which implies that for Russia, the ratification of START II, is primarily a way to reduce the American nuclear threat. Secondly, to maintain parity at lower costs than would otherwise be the case. Thirdly, to open the door to START III to preserve parity, not just in numbers of warheads, but in dynamic measures of strategic balance, of which, one of the measures is the ratio of secondary strike retaliatory capability. That was very persuasive for members of Parliament, making a big impression on them.

The fear of American nuclear superiority and the fear of the United States was the principal motive for many members of Parliament to vote for START II. I want to make a very important reservation. Of course, 33 billion rubles spent only on strategic forces during the next 10 years, is an enormous sum of money for Russia. Spending 65% of the budget means that nothing will be left for the conventional forces and for all other functions for Russia armed forces.

However, the situation is not completely hopeless. For instance, if need be, Russia could still maintain strategic parity, even at the level of START I. To do this it would be necessary for Russia to raise its defense budget from the present 2.8% of GNP to 3.5% of GNP. This was actually implied in the Presidential directive that was signed three years ago, but which was never fulfilled in the real planning for the Russian defense budget. 3.5% this year would mean an additional 40 billion rubles, which is about $1.5 billion of the Russian defense budget, which now stands at 146 billion rubles. In addition to that Russia would need to reduce the numbers of its forces further -- primarily its conventional forces. If it reduces its forces by 30% from 1.2 million men to 80, 000 men it could save about 30% on maintenance and transfer that money to research and development, procurement and construction.

Under such circumstances, Russia would be able to maintain even the present level of forces of five to six thousand warheads, which is the level of START I. However, certainly nobody wants to do this. Some people, in particular the armed forces and the Minister of Defense, do not want further reductions in personnel, while the Minister of Finance does not want a further increase in the defense budget. Democrats and liberals, like myself, would like both. However we would like to spend the money not on nuclear forces, which are to never be used, but rather to transform Russia into an all volunteer army, to improve the standard of living and to support the most advance branches of the defense industry . This is possible but certainly not desirable and that was the principal motive for many members of Parliament to vote for START II.

The second motive, which may also not be greeted very enthusiastically here in the United States, is that Russian considers START II to be an additional guarantee of the viability and validity of the ABM Treaty of 1972. Under START II the linkage between START and the ABM Treaty is much more stringent and unequivocal than under START I. Besides, Putin made a very strong commitment, which is on record, that if the United States unilaterally withdrew form the ABM Treaty, Russia will withdraw from START II, and will go in for new MIRVed ICBM’s. And he also said, and I can quote him, that Russia will withdraw from all the regimes of arms control, including conventional arms control.

That is the substance of the matter and the motives for ratification as far as the START II is concerned. The second point is about the legal aspect of it. We have ratified many treaties by adopting a law on ratification, not by just making unilateral reservations and statements. There was a law that was adopted on the ratification of START II, which consists of nine articles. Some of them may be of particular interest to you and once again may not be met with great enthusiasm here in the United States.

In article 2 of this law it is stated clearly that America withdrawal from the ABM Treaty will be considered the threat to supreme national interest, which will imply Russian withdrawal from START II.

Article 4, clearly states that if agreement on START III, the next treaty, is not reached by December 31, 2003, once again Russia will consider withdrawal from START II Treaty. I should remind you that this a very important date because the year after that, by December 31, 2004, the second stage of reduction under START II will begin. By that time Russia will not have completed its reduction, it will only have reached the level of 4,000 weapons all together, 2,000 weapons of submarines, 1,200 MIRVed ICBM’s and 650 heavy MIRVed ICBM’s. So Russia will see if progress on START III is good enough and then decide whether she will go to the next stage, which implies further reductions and complete elimination of MIRVed ICBM’s and of heavy missiles.

Finally, article 9 of that law, the most technical and most unpleasant, states that Russia will not actually start to implement the treaty, and will not exchange ratification documents with the United States until the United States ratifies the 1997 documents that were signed in New York. These documents deal with the five-year extension of the START II implementation. Most important is the delineation between strategic and tactical ballistic missile defenses. President Clinton at that time made an open and clear commitment to bring those documents for ratification as soon as Russia ratifies the Basic Treaty. Now the time has come. That is the linkage which basically will put START II on hold until the United States takes steps towards ratifying those two protocols. Without the two protocols it is impossible to start implementing START II because the time frame in the Basic Treaty that was ratified by the United States and that in the treaty that Russia is going to implement is very different. The difference is as big as 5 years.

The final point about the "bad news" is the way in which the Russia Duma ratified this treaty and the way in which the ratification of START II reflects Russian domestic public opinion with respect to arms control and the United States.

The Russia Duma ratified documents, which were signed in 1997, in particular, the memorandum on delineation between strategic and tactical ballistic missile defenses. A vast majority of 92% voted in favor. And Russia ratified START II with a majority of 64% in favor. It was still a pretty solid majority, and I actually did not expect it to be that big – I expected the margin to be smaller. As you know we need 226 votes to ratify a treaty, simple majority, and START II received 288. I expected the margin to be, at most, 20 or 30 votes. Why and how was the margin bigger? This is a very important issue. Among the factions in the Russian parliament, those who would vote in favor of START II under any circumstances are the Yabloko faction, the Fatherland Party, Union of Right Forces and Russia’s Regions, which all together make up precisely 123 votes. Those who voted against START II, and would vote against START II under any circumstances, are the Communists and the Agrarians, and they account for 121 votes. Approximately equal. The decisive package, which resolved the destiny of START II, 155 votes came from Unity faction, People’s Deputy and Zhirinovsky’s party. And even the name implies that certainly those people voted for START II, not because they want arms control, not because they approve of the United States policy, not because they want further progress and cooperation on security issues. If left to their own judgement, I know most of the people in those parties -- I’m absolutely sure that 70% of them -- would vote against START II. But they are disciplined parties, governmental parties that were created by the government and by the President and they voted in favor of START II because the Kremlin told them to do so. Otherwise, 30% of them would vote again, and against START II and it would never be ratified. This reflects very clearly the approximate spectrum of the public opinion towards arms control, toward cooperation with the United States and towards relations toward the United States in general. About 130 in favor, 130 against, and 155 who are in the middle, but who would follow what the government tells them.

This is a more of a manipulated and regulated democracy than we had during the previous Duma. It is very fortunate that the government and president were in favor of arms control.

That is why this manipulated democracy supported them. If Putin were against some agreements, the vast majority of the Duma -- 70% -- would support Putin. If Putin doesn’t agree with the compromise on START III, or if Putin decides to retaliate against American withdrawal from the ABM treaty 70%-80% of the Duma would support him. This would correspond not only to their way of behaving and being obedient to the President, but in many respects would reflect their inner instincts and political preferences.

Now let me say a few words about CTBT. It was passed in the Duma much more smoothly, without such a great debate, and without such great attention. However, the arguments in favor of CTBT were also not necessarily very encouraging either for the American government, – the Executive Branch -- which is in favor of CTBT, or for the American arms control community. The first and principal argument in favor of CTBT was that it will not enter into force, anyway, before the United States and a number of other countries ratify it. It was largely seen as a symbolic gesture.

The second consideration was that Russia is not going to violate the moratorium on nuclear tests anyway. And if the United States or some other country does that, then Russia will be able to do the same and the CTBT will not be an obstacle.

Finally, since Russia is not going to violate the moratorium on nuclear tests, it has to maintain stewardship of its nuclear arsenal without natural tests. That needs additional funding, which is very difficult to obtain in the absence of the CTBT Treaty. CTBT was linked directly with additional funding for the stewardship of Russia’s strategic arsenal.

In conclusion, let me say that there were times in the history of Russian-American relations in arms control, when the political environment was very favorable towards progress in arms control, but technical issues proved to be an obstacle. That was true, in particular, in 1963 when the Partial Test Ban Treaty was signed instead of a comprehensive test ban treaty, because some technical obstacles prevented countries from going for the larger treaty.

It was the same in 1972 when after limiting ballistic missile defenses, the sides they were unable to stop or ban MIRV systems, because technical issues prevented reliable verification – and at that time neither side was willing to go into such intrusive verification models, such as we are using now.

This time it is different. I think that, talking about the next steps for arms control, it is possible to give a set of steps that technically, would not be very difficult and would bring us real progress.

First of all, the US Senate has to ratify the 1997 documents, then both sides have to agree on the START III Treaty, going down to 1000-1,500 warheads. And may be we can revise the protocol to the ABM treaty, so that the United States may develop its desired ABM deployment area in Alaska. Also the United States needs to ratify CTBT, so that we can move on to a more stringent non-proliferation regime, and bring India and Pakistan into the CTBT as well. These are technical steps, which, from a technical point of view, are not very difficult. However, in contrast to some times in the past, the political environment is quite hostile to such progress in arms control. First of all domestically, in the United States and in Russia, the moods are not very conducive to flexibility, or to making compromise on important national security issues. I have described the moods in Russia and you may tell me about the mood in the United States, although I have a general impression about what the US Congress thinks, and about what US public opinion thinks about the issue.

International environment is also not very conducive because we have entered the period of numerous contradictions on various issues of international security. Nonetheless, the ball is now in the American court; it is up to the United States to make further steps. Whatever criticism may be made against Russia, and I am one of those who criticizes Russian conduct and Russian policy quite regularly, certainly it is up to the United States to make a wise next step. If it is done we may achieve a real breakthrough in arms control, which will make it easier for us to come to an accommodation on European affairs, on Iran, on China, and many other issues of international security. However, if that does not happen, the new deadlock of arms control, and maybe even the disintegration of the arms control system will greatly aggravate the contradictions that we have in the world at large. That will be extremely detrimental to international security and the to the security of Russia, and the United States as well. Let me finish on that optimistic note!

Question and Answer Session

QUESTION:

Joseph Cirincione, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: President Clinton would like to end his term by negotiating with Russia an agreement to deploy a limited national missile defense system, coupled with the START II agreement. An agreement that would bring deployed strategic nuclear forces down to around 2000-2500 warheads. The problem as I understand it from the Russian perspective is that you might be able to agree to a limited system. One that really was one site, maybe even two sites. But that the deal the United States is presenting you is basically a never ending system, that starts off with a site in Alaska and then proposes adding a site in North Dakota, and then leaves open the possibility of other modules being added to the system. And this gives the Russians some concern about whether that system could be big enough to actually thwart the Russian nuclear deterrent force. Am I reading this correctly, is this that the main problem that the Russian have with the idea of a limited missile defense deployed by the United States?

MR. ARBATOV:

The main problem has two sides. One is Russia does not want to re-open the ABM Treaty because there is fear that once you start doing it, it would be an open ended process and eventually the United States will end up with quite a thick national missile defense for its territory, which will under cut Russia’s strategic deterrent capability, not just the deterrent of "rogue" states.

As for Russian interest, it is also interested in ballistic missile defenses, but there is no first of all there is no money for it now. It is an abstract, theoretical interest. Secondly, Russia will do with theatre missile defenses. It does not need strategic ballistic missile defenses, because it is threatened by medium range missiles, shorter range missiles, not by ICBMs, except those of the US. The second part is that Russia is not satisfied with the framework agreement that was signed by President Yeltsin in 1997. It still implies spending about 30% of the defense budget only for strategic nuclear forces - to maintain at the level of 2000. Russia would rather go for lower, 1000-1500, and wants the United States to go lower. As far as I understand, the United States wants to have quite extended deployment eventually of ballistic missile defenses, and would prefer to stop at 2000 warheads. This is a principal and technical problem. However, I still believe that if left to only technical experts and if they were unrelated to commitments that were done recently both in the United States and Russia, which commitments are quite opposite. Then it would not be too difficult to reach compromise. We have a great experience of arms control reaching compromise on much more difficult and controversial issues during the Cold War.

QUESTION:

Alton Frye, Council on Foreign Relations: President Putin in his visit with Prime Minister Blair in London used a turn of phrase that seemed a bit different with regard to potential cooperation in dealing with proliferated missile threats. He talked about the possibility of cooperating through non-strategic technologies to deal with it. Did he mean only demarcated theatre missiles defense that the agreement reached between us would contemplate, or do you interpret that as opening a possible discussion of the alternative architecture, which a number of us have advocated, for limited in-theatre boost-phase defenses against long-range missiles?

MR. ARBATOV:

I have no doubt that President Putin was referring only to theatre ballistic missile defenses, which are permitted under the 1997 Memorandum. Because they are able to cope with medium and short-range ballistic missiles, which are now available to "rogue" states. He was not implying anything like what you are talking about, like deploying boost-phase theatre missile defense, in the Far East or something like that.

QUESTION:

John Isaacs, Council for a Livable World: Do you think that the present government in Russia feels that there is time to negotiate an agreement with the Clinton Administration on arms control before this administration leaves office, or is it more likely to wait until the new President is elected and takes office next year?

MR. ARBATOV:

I think Russian Present is willing to negotiate with this administration. However, if this administration is severely constrained by election campaign and comes to Putin and says what Yeltsin was always telling American presidents -- that we have to take into account that we have this intransigent opposition, so we have to make concessions – that will not be acceptable to Russia.

QUESTION:

Raymond Garthoff, Brookings Institution: I’ve seen some expressions of interest in the Russian press in reviving the idea of GPALS—that is, some cooperative and even joint missile defense with the United States and Russia. This idea, as you know, was raised briefly by both Presidents Bush and Yeltsin in 1992, and then faded away. Is there any real interest in the possibility of some collaborative work, not only on early warning systems but also on sharing some developmental work for limited ballistic missile defenses in both countries, as a way of meeting both American interest in a limited defense against third countries, and partly overcoming the problem that Russia is not alone in a position to buy and deploy a limited system of its own – even perhaps on its periphery.

MR. ARBATOV:

There are all kinds of theoretical articles, that don’t reflect political reality. Even the idea of having joint theatre ballistic missile defenses with Europe was accepted with a lot of skepticism in Russia, and was not actually in any way accepted, even tentatively by Western Europe.

As for cooperating with the United States there was, some time ago, a great enthusiasm for the idea, but I do not expect Russia to be realistically hoping to have genuine cooperation with the United States. Besides, that would certainly create enormous difficulties in relations with Russia and China. Since the United States has taken certain positions on many issues, particularly issues in Europe – NATO expansion, NATO use of force -- Russia is pushed toward China and is starting to view, at least in the security area, the Chinese connection as more important for its security than the cooperation with the United States.

QUESTION:

Dave Hafemeister, National Academy of Sciences: Is the technical feasibility of the whole ballistic missile defense question over emphasized as there are countermeasures that could overwhelm these systems with cooled RVs, balloons, chaff, and so forth. Is this a political issue because the technical issue could be overcome by just changing your attacking missiles, if you have countermeasures.

MR. ARBATOV:

Putin opened the statement that Russia would take counter measures if the United States unilaterally withdrew and went on with the deployment of national ballistic missile defense. The primary candidate is not new [inaudible] but deploying the ICBMs with MIRVed warheads once again. That is what Russia might propose anyway under START III—a lower ceiling in order to save money for other purposes. However, from the point of view of penetrating American defenses, there is no doubt that Russia will be able to do that. As I just said, even maintaining its forces under the START I would be feasible with the present budget and guidelines, without returning to a centralized communist economy.

However, that is very costly, and Russia would prefer to stand upon something else. And opening the race in the area where Russia is certainly lagging far behind from the United States is considered to be very bad new avenue of military competition. Russia is concerned about new expenditures, not so much about its inability to maintain robust deterrent capabilities.

QUESTION:

Tom Cochran, NRDC: I believe it was President Putin that suggested an alternative of assisting the US in negotiating with North Korea. Does Russia have any leverage with North Korea? Can you comment on what options are available.

MR. ARBATOV:

Russia at some point lost its leverage with North Korea, then there was an attempt to restore it. I’m not sure if Russia has any leverage that would be sufficiently effective to produce influence on Korean ballistic missile program. If any country could have that, it would probably be China not Russia.

QUESTION:

Daryl Kimball, NRDC: Question about an alternative approach to arms control that has been discussed in the last couple of years, given the political difficulties on the treaties. Even if this agreement on START III and ABM modifications is included, there is substantial opposition in the Senate to this, that it may not be ratified. Some have suggested that both the United States and Russia pursue reciprocal reductions in parallel. But for a prohibition that the Congress has set on US reductions below START I, this might be possible. What would the Russian attitude be to that sort of approach if the current political impasse continues past year 2000?

MR. ARBATOV:

Under our present level of funding for strategic forces, Russia will be reducing its levels, more or less in line with what is required by START II, albeit without the specific procedures on conversion and counting rules . However, I do not think that Russia would be happy to go for unilateral reductions and would add money to maintain its forces as high a level as possible if the United States does not follow this example of going down in its strategic forces. I think that for sometime that might be the future of this irregular arms control, not classic arms control. First there was reductions which are more or less in line with the treaty, without formally starting its implementation. As for the verification system, we have it under START I.

QUESTION:

Greg Thielmann, Department of State: You mentioned China a few times I wanted to follow-up with a question about NMD and how our decision on deployment will effect Russia-China relations. There are several things that bring Russia and China together in the world stage, including their opposition to any changes in the ABM treaty, agreement that foreigners should not interfere with Taiwan and Chechnya. How important is it for Russia’s relationship with China, which has surprised a lot of American in terms of the sophistication of Russian military technology going to China. How important would it be either if the US continues down the current path and developes an NMD system, or alternatively, if we decided to postopone that and only pursue theatre missile defenses, which we assume Russia is also pursuing?

MR. ARBATOV:

Russia is certainly has views China as its present partner. There are some concerns about long-term future but for the nearest and medium term future, China is perceived as much more closer to Russia on international security issues than the United States and the West in general. If China responds to American limited deployment with MIRVing its missiles, Russia would look at it quite calmly and say okay we’ve had that round with the US ABM MIRVed systems, we may have this cycle with China again for the next ten years. And China has enough money, enough technology to do that. If Russia would not be willing to go for this huge expenditures to do this cycle on its own, then China would do it. This is not giving any concern to Russians because intercontinental MIRVed missiles are needed for China, not against Russia. That’s really understood. As for theatre missile defenses, I think that Russia would not in any way help China or stay together with China if the United States deploy. Since we sign the agreement and if the US Senate ratifies the agreement on delineation, in no way would it be convenient or possible for Russia to object to such deployment in Japan or South Korea. Russia might try to sell its own missiles to those countries and they might be willing to buy them, if they US wouldn’t apply high pressure on them not to do that.

QUESTION:

Mike McFaul, Carnegie Endowment: The first question is this whole discussion is about capability, not about intentions, an obviously, if we had a relationship with Russia like we have with Canada or France we wouldn’t be having this kind of debate on what we are doing. The analogy is my neighbor is quite literally building up defenses because someone just broke into his home, and this does not effect me personally, because I have no intention of breaking into his house. Right? Could you give us a sense of where the probabilities of war fall? Where is the Russian thinking today about the American threat to Russia? The thought of countermeasures against Russia seemed abstract to me even after the Cold War, and it seems really abstract now. Could you give us a sense of that.

Second, a key person in whether or not there are any agreements in June or afterward, is Mr. Putin. We don’t have a very good sense of how he thinks strategically, and who he listens to when he talks about strategic issues. Can you tell us about the new team, in terms of strategic and foreign policy is going to look like?

MR. ARBATOV:

You of all people should know better than anyone else what the mood is in Russia, with respect to the United States. There are a lot of very bad feelings, bad expectations, suspensions and mistrust. A lot of those are not justified, some are, unfortunately, justified. Russia sees itself as now being an opponent of the United States. However, there is wide-spread recognition that Russia has limited resources and should not try to compete with the United States across the globe on all issues. In some areas, Russia is willing to compete. I think that with the new government and the new mood in Parliament and in Russia society this willingness to compete in important areas such as Post-Soviet states, the Balkans, the issue of ballistic missiles defenses and strategic offenses. This mood will grow much stronger, and much more centralized and well-coordinated than during Yeltsin’s times.

I think that Mr. Putin is primarily listening to the military in his strategic outlook. When Mr. Putin made his presentation in Parliament on START II, everybody expected him to give Parliament a great new vision of Russian strategic policy of the essence of strategic relationship with the United States. But he repeated those numerous arguments that were already given to members of Parliament during closed hearings at the Plenary session on ratification held before. So, apparently he listens to the military.

QUESTION:

Milton Leitenberg:

There are two other weapons of mass destruction systems and there are small problems on the Russian side: On the demobilization and destruction of the CW stockpiles, on the continued closures of three ministry of defense facilities. Is there any chance that your committee, with the momentum that has just occurred with these other issues, that you could actually turn to those and make some serious change in the status quo for the past seven years.

MR. ARBATOV:

The biological weapons have never come into any discussion with the defense committee, as far as I can recall. It never appeared on our agenda. But chemical weapons certainly occupy a very important place and our committee is planning to start a massive effort to acquire the funding, which is necessary to move forward in the implementation of the treaty to which we are committed. Right now, the level of funding is about 4% of the necessary minimum level of funding for the implementation of CWC.

QUESTION:

Joseph Cirincione, Carnegie Endowment: Could you clarify that right now – you have only 4 percent of what you need to actually implement the treaty?

MR. ARBATOV:

During the last two years, in contrast to commitments of the government, the actual level of funding was at a level of 4 per cent of what is needed to implement CWC – to build the facilities, and start destruction of stockpiles. The new government promises law and order, well, law and order will be very handy with respect to CWC.

QUESTION:

Spurgeon Keeny, Arms Control Association: As you know, the Clinton administration always states publicly and privately that despite the fact that Russians at all levels have said "no" to amending the ABM treaty, in the final analysis they will role over and accept this first phase limited deployment, with the option for further deployments. Do you think there is any possibility that this will happen and what, if any, incentives that the administration might propose that could persuade Russians to except this deal? Certainly your comments suggests the answer would be "none".

MR. ARBATOV:

Since this whole session is on the record. I would say most probably open-ended revision of the ABM treaty would be completely unacceptable. At most, and this is not an official position, but my personal opinion of Russian might do is to go for one additional deployment area, and in exchange for that, to go much lower ceilings and permission to deploy new MIRVed ICBM for Russia, and other things, which Russians want from START III. Particularly dealing with reconstitution of warheads. That might be viewed as the maximum that is achievable. But certainly staying at the level of the START III framework, going for a revision of the Protocol with the prospect of going still further, will not be acceptable. You have to understand that whatever Putin personally thinks about it, he is very strongly committed to a particular posture. Going for a compromise might could him support of the only real constituency that he has, which he relies upon, and which he believes in -- the armed forces and law enforcement power structures. Public opinion changes depending on the progress of the war in Chechnya, Putin’s rating may go down very quickly. Those are the structures of which he really depends, so he would risk losing their support in order to satisfy American plans for deployment of ballistic missile defense. He would rather go for a deadlock on the issue.

QUESTION:

Joseph Cirincione, Carnegie Endowment: You would not except any breakthrough at the Summit in the beginning of June, on these issues?

MR. ARBATOV:

We do not know what the Americans plans are. If the Americans are willing to propose a reasonable compromise and show flexibility, then it is possible. However, I cannot imagine, having some understanding of how American politics work, that during the election campaign President Clinton would deliver a such blow to Al Gore as to compromise with Russia.

QUESTION:

Jon Wolfsthal, Carnegie Endowment: If in fact what we can expect from the Summit on ABM and strategic reduction is very little, then what can we expect? Both in terms of what President Putin hopes to accomplish and what other issues might be in play to fill the void on a lack of agreement on other issues.

MR. ARBATOV:

There will be some general memorandum stating that both sides are determined to pursue, in good faith, negotiations to resolve the problem of ballistic missile defenses, and offensive weapons on the basis of stability etc. etc.

QUESTION:

Jon Wolfsthal, Carnegie Endowment: There has been discussion other potential issues, whether working on downsizing or right sizing on the nuclear complex, agreement on technology transfers and restrictions to countries of concerns. Is there any other discussion in Moscow about what other issues might be advanced?

MR. ARBATOV:

There are no discussions in Moscow with respect to the agenda of future summits. The attention certainly focused on the central l issue: offensive and defensive strategic systems. The diplomats can always give you a long list of those additional initiatives that are very nice declarations and plans to fill the vacuum. So we can rely on them to do that.