Russians, US senators to meet on Y2K

A delegation of high-level Russian officials will soon meet with the US Senate's Y2K committee to discuss year 2000 issues, including defence-related problems, and are expected to seek financial help from the US to help pay repair costs, the chairman of the US Senate's Y2K committee said.

During a hearing to look at the year 2000 problem's impact on the US economy, Senator Robert Bennett said he would be "quite receptive" to any request from the Russians for financial help to repair its defense systems. He doesn't know how much Congress would be willing to provide, but said the US has emergency Y2K funds it could tap.

The meeting with the Russian delegation, which will include members of its parliament and a deputy prime minister, is expected to occur in the next two or three weeks.

Russian government officials have already agreed to cooperate in a special Y2K warning center in Colorado. While US officials say there is virtually no chance that a year 2000 problem could trigger an accidental launch of a nuclear ballistic missile, they have expressed concerned that Russia's deteriorating early warning systems could fail or provide faulty data that could lead to bad decision making. Russian and US defense officials will work at the center to head off problems that might occur from any faulty information.

Bennett predicted the year 2000 problem will make Russian's difficult economic situation worse.

"The problem with the Russian economy is not that Y2K will shut it down; it's already shut down," said Bennett. "The problem will be that it will make it that much harder for them to recover."

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