NATO Bashes On

[Interview with Anton Surikov, Russian Defense Studies Institute expert, by Saveliy Khasidov
in Russian, 26 Oct 95 p 3

[FBIS Translated Excerpt]

[passage omitted]

[Surikov] The policy of unilateral Russian disarmament, which has jeopardized strategic security in the world, should be viewed in the same way. As regards strategic nuclear weapons this line is now being implemented in two main areas.

First, because of a lack of funding there is a rapid degradation of the strategic systems currently in service and much research and development in this field has been delayed or stopped completely.

Second, Russia is being saddled with international accords which are clearly disadvantageous to it -- the START II Treaty and the 1972 ABM Treaty.

[Khasidov] These problems are now being discussed at State Duma sessions and some sort of decision will evidently be made.

[Surikov] As regards the START II Treaty, there are two groups of arguments against its ratification -- military-strategic and political. When talking about the first group of arguments we should distinguish the problem of the inequality between the so-called "rapid replenishment potential" of U.S. and Russian strategic forces (the expected ratio is 5:1 in favor of the United States) and the U.S. attempts to change the provisions of the ABM Treaty on the pretext of the need to create a "tactical ABM system."

It should be stressed that in practice the U.S. delegation's proposals at the Geneva talks, should they be adopted, will legalize the United States' right to create a strategic ABM system on its territory.

At the same time the Republican majority in the U.S. Congress is intensifying pressure on the U.S. Government with the aim of persuading it to take such a step, even without Russia's agreement and despite existing international restrictions.

When considering the second group of arguments it is important to take note of the fact that at the time the START II Treaty was signed in January 1993 there was an illusion in Russia regarding the possibility of friendship and partnership between it and the United States. Because of this the distortions in the treaty in favor of the United States did not seem all that important. But now, with the onset of the "Cold Peace," caused by the NATO bloc's planned enlargement to the east, the START II Treaty's flaws look completely different.

In these conditions the expected substantial inferiority of Russian strategic nuclear forces to U.S. strategic forces in terms of the number of nuclear warheads in service (the expected result of START II's implementation in an abridged form for financial reasons is no more than 500-600 "Topol-M" missiles comprising the Russian Strategic Missile Forces by 2003-2005; there has been absolutely no construction of new nuclear-powered missile-armed submarines since 1990) will obviously be perceived in the West as grounds for considering Russia a second-rate nuclear power which the only remaining nuclear superpower -- the United States -- will be able to subject to nuclear blackmail with the aim of dictating its will.