Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 168

Top Foreign and Finance Ministry officials were close-mouthed yesterday following a one-day G-7 meeting in London that focused on Russia’s economic and political crisis. A British official, who briefed reporters afterwards, said that two representatives of the Russian government had briefed the session and assured its participants that Moscow intended to maintain its reform course. The Russian officials reportedly asked that “their government should be judged by the actions that it was going to take.” The British official would only describe yesterday’s meeting as a “very open, friendly, candid discussion.” He did not indicate the identities of the Russian officials who briefed the session (AP, UPI, Itar-Tass, September 14). On September 12-13 Russian news sources had reported that Moscow would be represented in London by Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov and Deputy Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov (Itar-Tass, September 12-13).

Yesterday’s G-7 meeting continued a series of high-level consultations among the world’s leading democracies over how best to react to the latest developments in Russia. Britain, which at present holds the rotating presidency of the G-7, is to prepare a report of yesterday’s meeting. The conclusions in that report could become a key working document in the event that G-7 leaders decide to hold an emergency meeting over Russia’s economic problems. That question, and related issues, are expected to be discussed when G-7 foreign ministers meet in New York on September 24. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, meanwhile, is scheduled to telephone Russian President Boris Yeltsin today to brief him on the results of yesterday’s meeting (Kyodo, September 14). Since Russia’s current economic and political crisis began, Western leaders have made clear their continued willingness to help Moscow–but only on condition that the Russian government holds fast to its economic reform policies.

The same message was conveyed to Moscow yet again yesterday by U.S. President Bill Clinton. In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton urged newly named Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov to take bold steps to overcome his country’s economic woes and warned that U.S. aid to Russia would be endangered if Moscow turned back to Soviet era economic policies. He also said that abandoning reform in Russia and continued turmoil there could “affect not only the Russian economy and prospects for our economic cooperation” but, at worst: “could have an impact on our cooperation with Russia on nuclear disarmament; on fighting terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction; on standing together for peace, from the Balkans to the Middle East” (Reuters, September 14).