Zyuganov Would Freeze Arms Pacts If NATO Expands

Article excerpt

Russian Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, who is seeking to win power this year from the ailing Boris Yeltsin, said on a visit to Washington that, if NATO expansion goes ahead, all existing arms-limitation treaties will be suspended.

"The expansion of NATO itself freezes all the previous arms race limitation treaties, and this is the reality that must be discussed," Mr. Zyuganov told an audience at the Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom Friday.

Mr. Zyuganov did not elaborate on whether he was referring just to the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, which Russia has long been seeking to amend to allow it use greater force levels in outlying regions to the south and east, or also to the two Strategic Arms Reduction treaties (START and START II).

START was signed by President Bush and Mr. Yeltsin in January 1993. START II has yet to be ratified by the Russian parliament.

Earlier Friday, Mr. Zyuganov told The Washington Times in an interview that he was not prepared to comment on what Russia's reaction would be if NATO went ahead this year with plans to invite former Soviet allies in Central Europe such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to join the alliance.

Expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is being strongly opposed by the Yeltsin government and by major parties across Russia's political spectrum from pro-Western democratic parties to ultranationalists.

"We have only a few questions where we have a national consensus, and this is one of them," Mr. Zyuganov said.

The Communist leader, whose father lost a leg in the siege of Sevastopol on the Black Sea in World War II, has said that Russia, which lost at least 27 million lives in that war and which has been invaded five times this century, could not happily accept NATO expansion. "We believe that if these plans take place it means they [the United States and its NATO allies] mistrust Russia, with all the consequences [to U.S.-Russian relations] that would follow," he said Friday.

Those consequences, he said "will finish with a search [by Russia] for new military allies to the south and east" - an apparent reference to Iran, Iraq and China. …