Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 236

In his television interview Ivanov also underscored a point at the forefront of Moscow’s criticisms of the strikes on Iraq. That is, that the air strikes are dangerous not only in themselves, but also insofar as they set a precedent for responses to future international crises (Russian agencies, December 21).

Moscow has repeatedly linked the U.S.-British strikes on Iraq to threatened NATO attacks on Yugoslavia. In the same fashion, Moscow has linked the air strikes on Iraq to U.S. proposals which would both broaden NATO’s mandate to include military missions outside of the alliance’s territory and make NATO less dependent on UN Security Council approval to do so. Moscow fears both the expansion of NATO’s international security role and the fact that Russia–as a permanent UN Security Council member–would not be able to exercise its veto power over NATO operations conducted beyond the alliance’s territory.

Russian military officials, meanwhile, continued to comment yesterday on developments in the Persian Gulf. A top Russian General Staff intelligence officer reportedly told a meeting of CIS defense ministers that the U.S.-British strikes on Iraq had been a good deal less effective than was claimed by the Pentagon. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev, meanwhile, apparently suggested to the same meeting that the U.S.-British actions in the Gulf should lead CIS member countries to consider closer military cooperation (Russian agencies, December 21).

In a related development, the Russian Defense Ministry’s chief for foreign military cooperation, Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, reiterated yesterday that Moscow should reduce its military contacts with the United States and Britain because of the strikes on Iraq. Ivashov said, however, that Moscow would avoid any full break in military contacts with Britain and the United States. He also suggested that Moscow would not let events in the Persian Gulf disturb Russia’s military ties with NATO (Russian agencies, December 21). In fact, contacts between NATO and the Russian military have been anemic. But the two sides claimed to make some progress in invigorating the relationship during a meeting of the NATO-Russian Permanent Joint Council (PJC) in Brussels on December 9. Russia’s defense minister did not attend a PJC meeting of defense chiefs last week by way of protesting Moscow’s opposition to the strikes in the Gulf.