Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 162

President Bill Clinton wound up his three-day visit to Moscow yesterday morning by meeting with acting Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The half-hour session came just prior to Clinton’s departure for Northern Ireland. According to White House press spokesman Mike McCurry, Clinton urged Chernomyrdin to do everything possible to get the government past Russia’s current political crisis.

“Putting the government together and resolving some of the political questions that are still lingering is a necessary predicate to start putting together strong economic policies that can move the country forward,” McCurry quoted Clinton as saying to Chernomyrdin. (Reuter, Itar-Tass, September 3) The vagueness of Clinton’s admonitions reflected the political realities that made this latest summit such an uneventful one. The two presidents issued several proclamations of friendship but managed to sign only two agreements of any consequence. (See the Monitor, September 3)

Russian government officials, meanwhile, put the best spin possible on the summit results. Chernomyrdin called the Yeltsin-Clinton talks “very successful,” saying that the Russian side had hidden nothing from the American delegation. Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Yuly Vorontsov, spoke in similarly positive terms, describing the summit as “very useful for the development of Russian-American relations” and as having been of much help to Russia. Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said that the two presidents had underscored the determination of their respective governments to maintain the “strategic partnership” between the two countries.

Rakhmanin also alluded, however, to differences between Yeltsin and Clinton that had surfaced at the summit’s concluding press conference on September 2. Yeltsin, he said, had underlined to Clinton Russia’s continued opposition both to NATO enlargement and to any overemphasis on NATO’s role in the formation of a new European security system. Russia continues, he said, to back a strengthening of the OSCE’s role in European security. (Russian agencies, September 3)

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, meanwhile, traveled yesterday from Moscow to Vienna, where she briefed European Union officials on the Clinton-Yeltsin summit meeting. In remarks to Austrian leaders and in a speech to OSCE representatives, Albright reportedly called on Western countries to encourage pro-democracy and pro-market forces in Russia. She described Russia as “at a crossroads,” and said that the West must make clear to Moscow that there is “no going backward.” Albright also alluded to what she suggested was growing disenchantment among the Russian people over the country’s initial experiment with democracy. She described this development as “dangerous because Russia cannot emerge from its difficulties unless its people take responsibility for shaping their country’s future.”

In the name of the European Union, Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima called on Russia to maintain its reform course. He said that continuation of reform in Russia was a precondition for additional economic help from the Europeans. Austria currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency. (AP, September 3)