Entries in Lame Duck (1)


Russia Frustrated With START Debate, Could Damage 'Reset'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- There’s no debate over the contents of New START on this side of the pond.  No need, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put it in March, for Rahm Emanuel to come to Moscow to whip up votes in the Duma.  If the Kremlin wants the treaty ratified, it gets ratified.  Moscow and Washington agreed they would ratify the treaty at the same time so the Russians are sitting and waiting for the Senate to get it done.

However, they’re realizing that the chances of the Senate ratifying it in the lame-duck session are quickly fading, if not dead already.  They also believe that a prolonged debate in the Senate could seriously harm the “reset” in U.S.-Russia relations and have broader policy implications.

“One should agree with Joe Biden who fears that, due to procrastinations with the ratification, the United States may lose Moscow's vital support in tackling the problem of Iran and in the war in Afghanistan," Mikhail Margelov, the head of the Federation Council’s international affairs committee -- Sen. John Kerry’s counterpart -- told the Interfax news agency Wednesday.

Margelov’s counterpart on the Duma’s international affairs committee -- the lower house -- said that Republican gains in the midterm elections could compromise the reset.

“We are concerned that now given the fact that there is a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, which is in opposition to President Obama, this will interfere with his initiative to restart Russian-American relations,” Konstantin Kosachev said Tuesday.

“The problem is not that [New START] is a bad document, but the fact that the [Senate] Republicans refuse to ratify the document. We are certain that these questions should not have anything to do with party politics.”

For its part, the Foreign Ministry is publicly optimistic, saying they think there’s enough time in the lame duck session to get the treaty ratified.  However, if the vote doesn’t happen this year, it “would not be the best outcome of the work we have done,” said deputy Foreign Ministry Sergei Ryabkov.

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