Tensions between Russia and the West, moreover, were hardly absent during the G-7 summit. Both Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin–who stood in for the Russian president during the first two days of the summit–and Yeltsin himself pushed for including Serbia in a Western-backed plan to rebuild the Balkans region. Russian pressure apparently forced the deletion of a strongly phrased warning in the summit’s final communique which said that Serbia would receive no reconstruction aid while President Slobodan Milosevic remained in office. Several Western leaders nevertheless made it clear that they had no intention of funneling aid to Serbia until Milosevic was not in power (International Herald Tribune, Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal-Europe, June 21).
Enduring differences between Russia and NATO over the conflict in Kosovo were also evident in remarks which Yeltsin made before and during the Cologne summit. In an interview with “Der Spiegel” on the eve of his departure, Yeltsin continued to describe the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia as a failed and dangerous policy which had undermined both the European and international security systems. He also referred again to the NATO campaign as “open aggression against a sovereign state” and warned that it should not be viewed as a model for the resolution of future conflicts (Itar-Tass, June 19).
Yeltsin made many of the same points, albeit a bit more diplomatically, in remarks delivered during the summit itself. He called, among other things, for discussion at high-level international forums on the need to promote world peace and security on the basis of the current international security system (Itar-Tass, June 20). That formula, which includes an insistence on the primacy of the UN and the UN Security Council in international affairs, has been offered as Moscow’s standard rebuttal to alleged efforts by the United States and NATO to dominate international affairs. The true measure of Yeltsin’s commitment to improved ties with the West could well be reflected in the Russian president’s rhetoric on such issues in future remarks to his domestic audience. Continued pandering by the Kremlin to hardline anti-Western forces would make a real reconciliation with the West all the more difficult to achieve.
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