The Russian-American New START treaty won preliminary approval of the Russian Parliament, even as Moscow rejected as “unacceptable” the U.S. Senate ratification resolution.
The State Duma, Lower House of Parliament, supported the treaty by a 350-56 majority in a first of three votes on Friday, but postponed its final approval till next year. In Russia, international treaties must be approved by both Houses of Parliament in contrast to the U.S. Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev hailed the pact as “a cornerstone of stability in the world and Europe for decades to come”.
Mr. Medvedev congratulated U.S. President Barack Obama on the Senate ratification of the New START in a telephone call on Thursday night.
“He succeeded in pushing through the ratification of the most important document on strategic offensive weapons in fairly difficult conditions,” said Mr. Medvedev in a live television interview on Friday. Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow “categorically” rejected “unilateral interpretation of some sensitive issues” in the ratification resolution approved by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.
Speaking in the State Duma, Mr. Lavrov took objection to the U.S. Senators' claim that the New START did not impose any limitations on the deployment of a global missile defence.
“The treaty in its preamble clearly establishes linkage between missile defences and strategic offensive weapons,” Mr. Lavrov told Russian legislators.
He warned that Russia could avail itself of the treaty provision allowing either side to withdraw from the pact in the event of extraordinary circumstances.
He said the Senate's claim that the New START did not apply to non-nuclear strategic weapons that could be developed in the future as “an unacceptable interpretation of the treaty”.