Russia’s Foreign Ministry reacted cautiously yesterday to the announcement in New York on September 23 that Japan and the U.S. had agreed to new guidelines that will expand their long-standing security alliance. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Valery Nesterushkin told reporters that Moscow awaits a clarification as to the details of the new defense agreement. He also intimated that Russia is among a group of countries who view the agreement with some misgiving, and said that Moscow is "carefully observing the process of transformation of the Japanese-American military union." Although the U.S. and Japan have emphasized that their enhanced military relationship is not directed against any other country specifically, and that, in the words of U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright — "It is an agreement that promotes the peace and security of all nations in the Pacific" — China and some other Asian nations have expressed reservations about the pact.
Nesterushkin went on to say that growing international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region demands that nations there promote greater transparency in their military activities. With that in mind, he suggested that Moscow is awaiting a detailed explanation of the new guidelines from Japan. (The Washington Post, September 24; Russian agencies, September 25) The Japanese-U.S. announcement comes amid a warming trend in relations between Moscow and Tokyo, and the new guidelines seem likely to be a topic of discussion in the bilateral contacts that will precede an early November meeting between Russian president Boris Yeltsin and Japanese prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. During a recent visit to Tokyo (and prior to the latest Japanese-U.S. announcement) Russian presidential aspirant Aleksandr Lebed applauded the Japanese-U.S. defense relationship as a stabilizing factor in Asia. (See Monitor, September 19) It remains to be seen whether the Kremlin’s current occupants will treat the new agreement with the same sort of enthusiasm.
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