Protests by a few Russian reformers notwithstanding, the Kremlin’s public opposition to NATO enlargement has not only continued in recent days, but the intensity of its invective may have increased. That seemed to be the case on February 11, when Boris Yeltsin’s foreign policy advisor called it "unjust and wrong" for the West to deny Russia the "veto" power over decisions on European security that Moscow is seeking in its ongoing negotiations with NATO. Dmitri Ryurikov complained that even NATO member states that might have little interest in security issues of specific importance to Moscow can bring to bear a "veto" power that Moscow lacks.
Moscow has also taken aim in recent days at NATO secretary general Javier Solana’s current tour of several newly independent countries. (See below) Ryurikov characterized the trip as a demonstration of NATO’s harsh position on the question of enlargement, and said it is intended to show CIS states that NATO would be receptive to applications of admission that they might submit. But anything that was left implicit in Ryurikov’s remarks was made explicit by Yeltsin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky yesterday. He accused Solana and NATO of using the trip to conduct a surreptitious campaign aimed at blunting Russia’s influence in the region by thwarting Moscow’s efforts to promote integration between Russia and the CIS states.
The broader charge — that the West is opposed to a Russian-led reintegration of the former Soviet states — is an old one. But the personalized nature of Yastrzhembsky’s attacks seems designed to raise tensions in the runup to Solana’s second round of talks with Russian foreign minister Yevgeni Primakov, scheduled for February 23. Yastrzhembsky denied, moreover, that the differences between Russia and NATO on enlargement have been narrowed at all — a pointed remark in the wake of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin’s recent trip to the U.S. — and he restated Moscow’s support for a five-power Russia-NATO summit that has been proposed by France. The U.S. has shown little interest in the proposal. (Reuter, Interfax, February 11-12)
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