On a frigid Moscow morning in January 1993, George H. W. Bush and Boris
Yeltsin signed the
II nuclear arms reduction treaty in the Kremlin’s
Vladimir Hall. As I stood with the US and Rus sian del e gations behind the two
presidents, I got that Yogi Berra feeling— “It’s déjà vu all over again.” After a few
minutes, I realized why. In May 1972, Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev had
signed the
I strategic arms accords on this spot and a famous photo graph
showed the US and Soviet del e gations standing behind their respective chiefs
on the same Kremlin staircase.
As a newly minted Foreign Ser vice Officer, I had worked in a minor capac-
ity on the 1972 summit and as chief of the po litical section at the US Embassy
in Moscow I helped in the negotiations of
II. Only twenty- one years
separated the two events, but what changes had occurred.
I was consid-
ered by many to be a sign that the Soviet Union had attained strategic parity
with the United States. But by 1993, the Soviet Union had disintegrated and
its Communist system had vanished. Inside Yeltsin’s Kremlin, Rus sian authori-
ties tried hard to maintain the atmosphere of earlier summits but the signing
was a muted affair.
Outside the Kremlin, destitution stalked the streets of the Rus sian capi-
tal. In one of the glittering but empty food stores along the city’s New Arbat
Street, I had seen Rus sians scuffling as shop keepers wheeled in a cart carry ing
a few bony scraps of meat. The euphoria which had greeted the end of the
Communist regime had long since dis appeared. Yeltsin and hard- line oppo-
nents in the Rus sian legislature were mired in battles, which only ten months
later would bring tanks into the streets to shell the parliament building. Eco-

Two Treaties, Two Eras
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