Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 5

Andrei Kozyrev announced January 5 his resignation from the post of Russian foreign minister. His action was not unexpected. Kozyrev was appointed foreign minister of the then Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR) by Boris Yeltsin over 5 years ago. Since 1992, he has been a constant target of politicians opposed to Boris Yeltsin, whose assessments of Russian diplomacy under Kozyrev range from incompetent to treasonous. Russian nationalists in particular have long excoriated Kozyrev for what they perceive as his sacrifice of Russia’s real national interests in favor of a flaccid policy of accommodation to the West. Yet Kozyrev’s putative "pro-Westernism" was overstated. Particularly after the parliamentary elections of December 1993, which saw a surge in the popularity of ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Kozyrev adopted the rhetoric of the hard-line opposition with an ease that led some reformers to accuse him of trying to "out-Zhirinovsky Zhirinovsky." The gulf between Kozyrev and reformers grew wider when he supported the Kremlin’s war in Chechnya in 1995. In November 1995 Yeltsin threatened publicly to fire Kozyrev. With virtually all sectors of the political spectrum calling for his dismissal, Kozyrev’s election to the Russian parliament last month finally afforded him a dignified exit from the Foreign Ministry.

Presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev said Kozyrev’s departure did not signify a change in direction of Russian foreign policy. Russia will continue to develop partnerships with western countries while working for good relations with China, Japan, and India, he said. Medvedev also suggested that Russia would continue to oppose the enlargement of NATO. (10) Foreign reaction to the resignation was low-key, with many Washington policymakers and analysts agreeing that it would have little impact on Russian policy, a view echoed by German foreign minister Klaus Kinkel. (11)

Reactions To Resignation.