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Russian Military Official Rules Out Arms Concessions to Washington - 2001-12-01

A senior Russian military official says Moscow will not make any major concessions to the United States on changing or scrapping the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. His comments reflect some of the dissension within the military establishment over President Vladimir Putin's policy of moving closer to the United States and NATO.

The senior military officer says Russia is not prepared to make concessions, which Washington may seek to move forward with a national missile defense shield.

Colonel General Yuri Baluyevsky is first deputy head of the military general staff. He says Russia still considers the A-B-M treaty the foundation of arms control agreements with the United States and that it cannot be changed.

Speaking with Russian reporters, the general also criticized Russia's moving closer to NATO.

His tough comments come in the aftermath of last month's summit meeting between President Putin and President Bush in the United States.

Although the two failed to reach a compromise agreement on the controversial missile shield plan, they promised to continue negotiations.

Many in Russia's powerful military-industrial complex oppose Mr. Putin's policy of reaching out to the United States, including his support for the war against terrorism in Afghanistan.

General Baluyevsky's comments came as the United States prepared for a new missile defense test over the Pacific Ocean on Saturday.

President Bush says the ABM treaty is a relic of the Cold War and should be scrapped. Various U.S. officials also say Washington may back out of the treaty to proceed with missile defense.

Russian President Putin has indicated that he is willing to reach some compromise that would allow the United States to proceed with its plans.

Before last month's summit, it appeared there might be some linkage between the missile defense plan and cuts in the strategic nuclear arsenals in both countries.

However, President Bush announced at the summit that the United States would unilaterally cut the number of strategic nuclear warheads to about 2,000 from the current 6,000.

Russia has said it is also willing to make cuts.