Russia will give a legal response that may abolish the START-1 and START-2 treaties with the US, if Washington announces its pullout from the 1972 ABM Treaty, Chairman of Duma International Affairs Committee Dmitry Rogozin said in Moscow Wednesday.
In April 2000, the Duma ratified the START-2 treaty as well as a law that specifies Russia's response in the case of a U.S withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, Rogozin said.
Under the law, Russia could announce to leave the START-2 treaty if the US unilaterally abandons the ABM treaty, he said.
Rogozin said President Vladimir Putin had discussed with his committee on Russia's response to a possible US pullout in late November.
"Now Russian political figures are waiting for the details of the US position," he said, adding that it would be premature to speak of Moscow's response before an official statement from Washington
"I can only outline the logic of it. We believe offensive and defensive systems should be discussed together. If the ABM Treaty no long exists, Russia will have a free hand in nuclear planning," the chairman said.
US President George W. Bush announced his decision to withdraw from the ABM treaty in a meeting with Congress leader.
Earlier reports from both Moscow and Washington quoted anonymous US officials as saying that "Bush was set to inform Russia of his withdrawal plan as early as Thursday."
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who was paying a visit to Brazil, told a Wednesday news conference in Brasilia that Russia would regret over a US decision to withdraw from the ABM.
Russia wanted to maintain the treaty for strategic stability, he said. The US has the right to revise or withdraw from it, but Russia suggests holding talks on the contents of the treaty.
A formal US move to withdraw, which requires six month's notice, would likely be vehemently opposed by Russia, who regards the ABM pact as a cornerstone of the international security.
Moscow also warned that if the US unilaterally abandons the ABM treaty, it will take steps "to promote our own national security," including arming their missiles with multiple warheads.
(People's Daily December 13, 2001)