FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITIES….
President Putin made his first visit to the Foreign Ministry last week to deliver a major address on Russia’s place in the world. He was restrained in his discussion of relations with the United States, looking forward to discussions with the Bush administration on “strategic stability,” missile defense, regional conflicts, and separatist movements. He made no mention of closer ties with China or India and said “for us there can be no shift, either to the West or the East.” Yeltsin-like, he linked Russia’s development to its diplomacy. Russia’s diplomats, he said, must build secure, stable conditions on the border, to let the government concentrate on solving economic and social problems at home. And he recalled Yeltsin’s decree giving the foreign ministry a lead role in promoting Russia’s economic interests abroad. All in all, he laid out a cautious and pragmatic line, one that the often hotheaded and sharp-tongued foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, may find hard to follow.