Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 189

Russia’s Duma yesterday voted to summon security chief Aleksandr Lebed to the chamber on October 25 in order to hear why he had failed to condemn NATO’s expansion plans during his recent visit to Brussels. The Duma action came after Lebed, in remarks to reporters at the end of his stay in Brussels, unexpectedly disparaged Moscow’s heretofore confrontational policy toward the Western alliance. Lebed criticized the Kremlin for its attempts to "sustain a 15-year-old policy under completely new economic, military, and other conditions," and cautioned that a failure to involve itself in NATO’s activities could leave Moscow isolated on the periphery of Europe. He also said that "people are doing serious work" in NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program, and asked why Moscow had remained inactive after joining the program last year. By "refusing to take part, we are placing ourselves outside the bounds of the process… and as such we will lose the opportunity to have influence on anything," Lebed argued. Suddenly the pragmatist, Lebed also asked what other choice Moscow had following the collapse of the socialist system and the Warsaw Pact, not to mention the disintegration of its own economy and military might.

But Lebed intimated that his call for accommodation was not a surrender. He observed that NATO itself is fractured, and that plans for enlargement have introduced new financial, social, and political tensions into the alliance. Lebed did not say directly that Moscow should exploit these tensions. But he did suggest that the Kremlin would profit more from being on the inside than on the outside during the alliance’s ongoing enlargement debate, and said he would recommend to Boris Yeltsin that Moscow quickly draft a document setting out the terms under which it would be willing to work with the Western alliance. "It is necessary to provide at least a vague outline of what we want," the retired general said. "Otherwise NATO would build a system independently, and we would be left outside it." (Itar-Tass, October 8; UPI, Reuter, October 9)

IISS: Decline of Russian Army Continues.