Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 110

Russia’s foreign minister yesterday returned to a harder line on NATO enlargement. Yevgeny Primakov warned that a failure by Moscow and NATO to reach a compromise agreement on enlargement would lead Russia both to rethink its own military development plans and to reconsider its adherence to "many arms reduction treaties." An expansion of NATO’s military infrastructure to Russia’s borders could also affect Russia’s efforts to create a "better geopolitical climate both inside and outside the CIS," he added. Primakov highlighted the creation of a CIS defense alliance as one of the counter-measures to enlargement that Moscow would consider. NATO would then be responsible, he said, for the creation of "new divisions in Europe" and for tendencies that could lead to a "cold peace." However, Primakov also said that the West increasingly does understand the "importance of the Russian factor" in its deliberations on enlargement, and he spoke positively of possible Russian participation in the multinational forces discussed at NATO’s recent meeting in Berlin. (Itar-Tass, June 10)

Primakov’s remarks, which appeared in today’s Komsomolskaya pravda, seem to indicate a retreat from the more amenable position ascribed to him by Western leaders in Berlin. His enumeration of possible counter-measures to expansion also echoed the harder line that has consistently been taken by Russia’s Defense Ministry. In light of Moscow’s abysmal military performance in Chechnya and its generally unsuccessful efforts to boost CIS military integration, critics of that line have long been doubtful about Russia’s ability to create a credible military counter-bloc to NATO.

Courting Teheran and Baghdad.