DATE=6/2/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA / U-S / ISSUES NUMBER=5-46432 BYLINE=PETER HEINLEIN DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The third leg of President Clinton's European tour takes him to Moscow (late Saturday) for three days of meetings with Russia's new president, Vladimir Putin. V-O-A's Peter Heinlein, in Moscow, reports a flurry of last-minute negotiations has renewed hopes that a widely-predicted deadlock on arms control may be overcome. TEXT: When President Clinton's visit to Moscow was in the planning stage earlier this year, there was talk of a grand arms-control compromise. Strategists dreamed of a deal in which Russia's new leadership would overcome objections from hard-liners and agree to amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The Clinton administration wants changes in the A-B-M treaty to allow deployment of a limited nuclear missile defense shield. In return, the thinking went, the United States would agree to a START-3 arms treaty that would cut each sides' nuclear arsenal to as little as 15-hundred warheads. Such a deal would allow Russia to maintain nuclear parity with the United States, at a time when the Kremlin is hard-pressed to find the cash needed to replace its aging arsenal. But as the bargaining process went forward, it quickly became clear that Russia's generals consider the A-B-M treaty sacred--the cornerstone of the entire arms- control process. So when a senior U-S official briefed reporters in Moscow last week, he reacted defensively to suggestions that the Clinton/Putin meetings would be dominated by arms-control issues. The U-S official (who asked not to be identified) said President Clinton will also voice Washington's concerns about Russia's brutal war against Muslim rebels in Chechnya. /// OPT /// Analyst Dmitry Trenin of the Moscow Carnegie Center, however, says President Putin intends to firmly rebuff U-S criticisms. /// TRENIN ACT /// He will say he understands enough about Islamic fundamentalism and extremism and press freedoms. He doesn't need lectures from Mr. Clinton. He will say what he's doing in Chechnya is in fact a part of a struggle to preserve civilization against terrorism. On press freedoms, he will assure Clinton that he doesn't mean to stifle press freedom, and that will be the end of the conversation. /// END ACT /// /// END OPT /// Mr. Putin, too, will have a long list of discussion topics, very different from Mr. Clinton's. The Russian agenda revolves mostly around security issues, including concerns about plans for further expansion of NATO. /// BEGIN OPT /// Anatoly Utkin, an adviser to Russia's parliament on defense issues, says Russia feels humiliated at seeing former Warsaw Pact allies admitted to NATO -- and hearing talk of further expansion by the Western alliance into former Soviet republics -- le Moscow is excluded from membership. /// UTKIN ACT /// The first question, which is always asked by Russians, is, if you are going to include more and more [of] our allies into the military alliance to which we are excluded. So, would you like not to be invited to the party in your community with all your neighbors to be invited? What would be your feeling? So this is the feeling of Russia today. /// END ACT /// Mr. Utkin predicts that behind the smiles and handshakes coming from the summit, Mr. Putin will prove a much tougher negotiating partner than his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin. /// END OPT /// At the same time, the Russian leader is young, relatively inexperienced, and has been in office only a short time. Analyst Victor Kremenyuk of Moscow's U-S-A/Canada institute says Mr. Putin can still be won over if President Clinton makes a persuasive case. /// KREMENYUK ACT /// He thinks we should be flexible. So from this point of view, we should not be [acting] any more [like a] Soviet power and [using the] "nyet" of Mr. [Former Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei] Gromyko, who said "nyet" to everything. So it's a very delicate balance between innovation in the Russian foreign relations and elements of conservatism. /// END ACT /// The Clinton administration appears to be banking on its persuasive abilities. On the eve of the president's arrival, Moscow was abuzz with word that Russia might be prepared to make a counter-proposal on the A-B-M issue. Alexander Golts, defense analyst with the weekly "Itogi" newsmagazine, says the main reason for optimism is that, despite its frustrations, Russia desperately needs a START-3 deal. /// 1ST GOLTS ACT /// There are a lot of reasonable reasons for new Russian-American deals in arms reductions for Russia. It is absolutely clear that the number of Russian nuclear warheads will be reduced dramatically, with or without START-3. By 2008, we will not have a few thousand but several hundred warheads, all because of financial problems. /// END ACT /// /// OPT /// Mr. Golts says a last-minute flurry of negotiations between Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and his Russian counterpart is a positive sign. /// 2ND GOLTS ACT /// I cannot give you evidence. If you speak with any Russian general, he will be as tough as he can, but, you see, there is something in the air in Moscow, that these two men can surprise us. /// END ACT /// /// END OPT /// The Kremlin counterproposal on A-B-M apparently calls for including Russia and Europe in the planned U-S nuclear missile shield, effectively sharing the technology for knocking down incoming missiles. The idea is not new, but has not been on the bargaining table in the recent round of discussions. Analysts say, however, that the proposal could form the basis of the grand compromise the White House had hoped for in the early stages of summit planning. (Signed) NEB/PFH/GE/WTW 02-Jun-2000 12:51 PM EDT (02-Jun-2000 1651 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .