Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 158

One issue on which the two presidents are unlikely to find much common ground in Moscow is that of the recent U.S. air strikes on targets in Afghanistan and Sudan. On August 21, Boris Yeltsin said he was “outraged” by the U.S. military action. He denounced the attacks, saying that his attitude toward them was as “negative as it would be toward any act of terrorism, military interference [or] failure to solve a problem through talks.” He also complained that Washington had not informed the Kremlin–or the world community–beforehand of the attacks, and described that oversight as “indecent.” (Reuter, Itar-Tass, August 21) The United States had launched the attacks at what it described as “terrorist-related” bases in Sudan and Afghanistan following deadly bombings at U.S. embassies in East Africa.

Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky appeared anxious to soften Yeltsin’s comments when he said on August 21 that, despite Russia’s objections to the U.S. attacks, they would by no means call into doubt “our joint work with the United States in the struggle against terrorism.” The special services of the two countries, he added, would “continue to interact in this direction.” (Itar-Tass, August 21) A representative of the special services, however, reacted with less equanimity. He called the U.S. attacks an act of aggression unsanctioned by the international community and maintained that such strikes were, in any event, an ineffective way of dealing with terrorism. A Russian Foreign Ministry statement held that the U.S. attacks were the cause of “deep concern.” It also warned that they could set “a dangerous precedent in the international practice of solving contentious problems.” (Itar-Tass, August 21)