At the meeting of prime ministers of all the countries bordering on the Baltic Sea, held on Sweden’s Visby island, Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin distanced himself from recent threats in Moscow that Russia might send troops into Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to forestall their accession to NATO (see Monitor, May 3). Chernomyrdin said that "an invasion is simply excluded" and that the three states are sovereign and entitled to taking decisions. However, Chernomyrdin stressed that "we are categorically against NATO’s enlargement" and predicted that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania will not join the alliance. He went on to warn that "we shall never accept such a treatment of the Russian-speaking population" as, in his view, obtains in Estonia and Latvia. Chernomyrdin followed in his remarks Moscow’s recently introduced, wedge-drawing tactic of differentiating between Russia’s relations with Estonia portrayed as bad, with Latvia described as susceptible of improvement, and with Lithuania defined as good. (Itar-Tass, BNS, Reuter, May 3 and 4).
Belarus Parliament Ratifies Treaty with Russia Amid Doubts Over its Effectiveness.