The lower house of the Russian parliament is to meet later in the day to set a date on the ratification procedure for the new arms pact with the United States, the State Duma said on Thursday.
It said the Duma Council will meet at 4:00 p.m. Moscow time (13:00 GMT) to set the time and date and prior to that the house foreign relations committee is to submit its recommendations on the ratification procedure.
There are several options: The document may be considered as is - as it was submitted by the president or the president will resubmit it as amended or, if necessary, the lawmakers themselves will make amendments to the text.
Two of the four parliamentary parties, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), said they would vote against the ratification.
"Our faction will vote against it. The decision was made a long time ago," CPRF member Sergei Obukhov said, adding that the new arms treaty threatens Russia's national security and does nothing to solve the missile defense issue.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier in the day Moscow was waiting for the text of the U.S. Senate ratification resolution to proceed with its own ratification process.
The U.S. Senate passed the new START treaty by a 71-26 vote on Wednesday in what is seen as a major foreign policy victory for U.S. President Barack Obama, who is eager to "reset" relations with Russia.
The treaty, signed by Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April, has won the backing of the world's top figures, including NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Obama hailed New START as "the most significant arms control agreement in nearly two decades."
Medvedev also welcomed the move but said that "the parliament might need some time to study the legal aspects of the ratification by the Senate prior to making its own decision," his spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said.
MOSCOW, December 23 (RIA Novosti)