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In the aftermath of the U.S.-Soviet summit meeting and signing of a missile treaty, there has been a sense of euphoria on the part of many. But Americans need to remember that the Russian bear has not suddenly become a teddy bear.

The Soviets have long engaged in what is known as "disinformation." That is a five-syllable word meaning "lie." It usually takes the form of spreading outlandish untruths about the U.S. in gullible Third World countries. The information is rigged to make it appear to have come from some other source.Such disinformation campaigns were suspended for a month or so while Gorbachev and Reagan worked out the missile treaty. But in January, they seem to have resumed.

The latest story, which appeared in some African newspapers, is that the U.S. supplied chemical weapons to South Africa. These were then shipped to guerrilla forces battling Soviet-backed regimes in Angola and Mozambique. Earlier stories had American scientists working on "ethnic" weapons that would kill blacks but not whites.

If the Soviets are willing to stop their lies only long enough to get what they want and then are perfectly willing to resume their previous behavior it doesn't speak well of their reliability.

Any dealings with the Russians need to be approached with a healthy dose of skepticism and caution.