Amid the confrontational rhetoric, suggestions yesterday indicated that Moscow might be dangling at least two carrots before the West in an effort to avert the threatened air strikes on Yugoslavia. A Russian news program intimated that if NATO calls off the strikes, Russian authorities might be prepared this week to open a NATO mission in Moscow (NTV, October 12). Western leaders have long bemoaned Moscow’s failure to follow through on a number of proposed cooperative efforts stipulated in the Russia-NATO Founding Act. Russian foot-dragging on the establishment of a NATO mission in Moscow has also been one of the West’s concerns.
There was also a report out of Moscow yesterday that Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov was expected to hold consultations with parliamentary leaders this week to win their backing for ratification of the START II strategic arms treaty. Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev has reportedly agreed to include START II ratification on the agenda of the coming session. That is likely to change, however, the report said, in the event of NATO strikes on Yugoslavia (Itar-Tass, October 12).
Primakov is a longtime backer of START II. Yesterday’s report notwithstanding, however, there is little reason to believe that Russian parliamentarians have suddenly, this week, abandoned their long opposition and are now prepared to move toward ratification. Indeed, several warnings in recent days have indicated that NATO strikes on Yugoslavia would ensure continued inaction by Russia on the treaty. Neither of the reported Russian offers is likely to win Moscow much leverage in the West.
ISSUE ONE: THE PRESIDENT’S HEALTH.