Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 36

Always more eager to jump into foreign policy disputes than to deal with pressing domestic issues, several Russian lawmakers also joined the fray over the weekend. The communist speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, Gennady Seleznev, threatened anew on February 19 that Moscow would withdraw from its partnership agreement with NATO if the alliance launched strikes on Yugoslavia. He also repeated a warning frequently heard from Moscow that Russia will “render military and technical assistance” to Yugoslavia in the event of strikes against it. Seleznev’s remarks followed a closed-door session on Kosovo by the Russian Duma which was addressed by Avdeev (Russian agencies, February 19). State Duma Deputy Sergei Baburin, meanwhile, a leader of the “national-patriotic” Popular Rule faction, also said on February 19 that Russian military aid would flow to Yugoslavia if NATO launches strikes against it. Baburin had just returned from Belgrade, where he claimed to have had lengthy talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic (Itar-Tass, February 19).

Seleznev’s threat about a possible rupture in ties between Russia and NATO in the event of strikes on Yugoslavia was repeated on February 20 by Russian General Staff chief Anatoly Kvashnin. The Russian general was quoted as saying that Moscow would abandon its special partnership with NATO “if the situation demands it.” He added that “everything depends on the further behavior by NATO member states and the way they treat Russia’s position.” Kvashnin also suggested that NATO’s long-time peacekeeping mission in Bosnia has been a failure, and that any effort to introduce a similar peacekeeping contingent in Yugoslavia would meet a similar fate (Reuters, February 20). Both NATO and Russian military leaders have generally pointed to Russia’s participation in the Bosnia peacekeeping effort as the best example of cooperation between the former Cold War adversaries.