One day after talks outside the Russian capital on relations with NATO, Russia’s Foreign Ministry made clear yesterday that Moscow would continue its public criticism of the Western alliance’s enlargement plans. "Whatever the situation, Russia will continue to oppose NATO’s enlargement plans," Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennadi Tarasov said. "An unbiased observer can see that NATO’s enlargement creates dangers of drawing new demarcation lines in Europe and of throwing us back to what we hoped to end after the Cold War."
One unnamed source in the Russian Ministry said, however, that the January 20 talks between NATO secretary-general Javier Solana and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeni Primakov "can in no way be described as a failure," and Tarasov himself allowed that the talks were "useful" and that Moscow would continue the search "for solutions that would help ease Russia’s concerns." Tarasov suggested that the talks, not unexpectedly, had included discussion on how to ensure that NATO’s military infrastructure is not extended eastward, how to cement a legal agreement forbidding the deployment of nuclear weapons in Central and Eastern Europe, how to adjust the CFE Treaty, and how to ensure that any NATO-Russia agreements have the character of legally binding documents. The two sides have reportedly agreed to meet again next month, although no specific date or venue has been announced. (Interfax, Reuter, UPI, January 21)
To date, NATO leaders have been reluctant to negotiate with Russia a political agreement that would ultimately require parliamentary approval–a tactic that Moscow has viewed with some suspicion. But Vladimir Lukin, the influential chairman of the Russian Duma’s International Affairs Committee, suggested yesterday that the two sides might arrive at a compromise on this issue patterned after Russia’s partnership agreement with the European Union. A shortened version of that agreement went into effect without ratification, Lukin observed, as did certain of its parts. Others did require ratification, and were dealt with later. (Interfax, January 21)
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