WASHINGTON — DEVELOPMENTS in the Soviet Union could delay congressional action on an East-West treaty cutting conventional forces in Europe. The treaty, signed by countries belonging to NATO and the Warsaw Pact, would cut artillery, tanks, and troop carriers based in the part of Europe that runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains in the Soviet Union.
Secretary of State James Baker III told Congress Wednesday he will recommend that the treaty not be submitted to the Senate for ratification because of questions raised by Soviet behavior.
In addition, Mr. Baker said, a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which was to have been signed early this year, may be in trouble. Officials said the negotiations have stalled, apparently because the Soviet general staff has been countermanding political orders the Kremlin's leadership has handed down.
Among the problems with the treaty on conventional forces in Europe, known as CFE, is the Soviet military's insistence that three divisions of naval troops, or marines, be excluded from the treaty provisions by classifying them as ``shore defense units.''
US officials have also confirmed that the Soviets, in advance of the treaty's coming into effect, have moved several thousand armored vehicles east of the Ural Mountains, where they would not be counted as part of the forces to be reduced.
Mr. Baker said that while these questions remained unsettled, ``I would not recommend submitting the treaty to the Senate for ratification.''
Although there is no direct connection between CFE and START, Baker said there is a connection, in practical terms, since both depend on US confidence that the terms of the treaties will be carried out. He said the US, while it believes that President Gorbachev's program of reforms is important, is not negotiating the treaty to help Gorbachev out, but because the treaties are good for US national security.
On relations with the Soviets in the midst of the Baltic states crisis, Baker told the House Foreign Affairs Committee: ``I hope the Soviet Union will relearn quickly the lessens from its own hard experience: The old ways are not the right ways. Perestroika cannot succeed at gunpoint.''
Referring to recent moves in Lithuania, Baker said, ``The Soviet leadership is at a crossroads. We have made clear that their last several steps have taken them down a path of no benefit for them or for us or for anyone else.''
Later, President Bush told the Economic Club of New York the situation in the Baltics imposed ``certain constraints'' on the United States' moving ahead with a planned expansion of economic cooperation with the Soviets ``until we get satisfied that this was an anomaly and not a new way of life.''