Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 174

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, just named to his post on September 11, used an address to the UN General Assembly yesterday to reiterate Moscow’s commitment to continued economic reform. Ivanov also promised continuity in the conduct of Russian diplomacy and restated Moscow’s broad policy goals–several of which have brought it into conflict with the West and with the United States in particular–in the international arena. Ivanov stated, for example, that Russia would “firmly pursue the goals of building up a multipolar world… in order to settle international problems by political means.” The term “multipolar world” is used by the Kremlin to denote an international system in which the influence of the United States is diminished and decisionmaking on international issues passes increasingly to regional groups and powers–one of which would be Russia.

Ivanov’s reference to the use of “political means” to settle international disputes is directed in large part at threats by the West–and by the United States in particular–to intervene militarily in such crisis spots as Kosovo and Iraq. An additional injunction voiced by Ivanov against the use of forcible measures that violate the prerogatives of the UN Security Council refers to U.S. threats to intervene militarily in these same crisis areas without Security Council authorization. Ivanov also noted Moscow’s opposition to the use of UN sanctions that might cause the affected populations to suffer. Russia has long argued for the lifting of sanctions against Iraq on the basis of the suffering that the sanctions are said to be imposing on the general population. Moscow has indicated that it opposes the imposition of sanctions on Yugoslavia for some of the same reasons.

Ivanov yesterday appeared also to underscore the importance that the Russian Foreign Ministry attaches to its relations with the other former Soviet states. He suggested that Russia deserves greater “tangible assistance” from the international community–particularly from the UN and the OSCE–for what Moscow calls its peacekeeping missions in trouble spots along Russia’s borders. Ivanov also called on the international community to keep a close watch on what Moscow claims are human rights violations against the Russian-speaking populations in Latvia and Estonia.

In addition, Ivanov warned against the danger of “militant separatism,” which, he said, often combines terrorism and religious fanaticism in a mix that can destabilize international relations. He said that the consequences would be disastrous if national minorities around the globe “begin to clamor for the creation of their own states.” Russia has raised the specter “militant separatism” with regard to its own secessionist republic of Chechnya, and has referred to it also in criticizing the actions of Kosovar Albanians in Yugoslavia.

Ivanov said, finally, that Russia is committed to additional strategic arms control measures and attaches great importance to Russian-U.S. efforts aimed at achieving further reductions in nuclear stockpiles. He restated once again the Kremlin’s determination to win ratification of the START II treaty in the Russian parliament (Itar-Tass, September 22).