Russia’s Foreign Ministry yesterday welcomed Monday night’s diplomatic breakthrough in talks on Kosovo, but the country’s military and parliamentary leaders nonetheless stepped up their rhetorical onslaught against NATO’s continued threat of air strikes on Serbian targets. Colonel General Leonid Ivashov remained the point man in the Defense Ministry’s Cold War-style attacks on NATO military planners. He restated long-articulated Russian accusations that NATO’s threat of strikes on Yugoslavia is in fact part of a broader plan aimed at establishing the alliance’s military dominance over all of Europe–and potentially over former Soviet territory as well. “NATO wants to consolidate its position as the only body to tackle security problems in Europe,” Ivashov was quoted as saying. NATO strikes in Yugoslavia, he continued, would “create an absolutely new military-geostrategic situation in Europe.” The “operation against Yugoslavia is also projecting the use of the Alliance’s military force toward Russia…. Other European countries, the CIS, including Russia, can become targets of NATO intervention,” he charged (Itar-Tass, October 13).
Ivashov said that the Defense and Foreign Ministries were jointly preparing possible countermeasures to NATO strikes on Yugoslavia. They asserted yet again that NATO intervention would endanger cooperation between Moscow and the alliance. Ivashov also voiced warnings that Russia might revise its participation in the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, reconsider allowing NATO to open a liaison office in Moscow, suspend Moscow’s own participation in the Russia-NATO Permanent Joint Council and relax efforts to win parliamentary ratification of the START II treaty (Itar-Tass, October 13). More to the point, Ivashov appeared to threaten formally what various Russian leaders have thus far warned of unofficially. That is, in the event of NATO strikes, Moscow will consider both training specialists for the Yugoslav armed forces and dispatching military hardware to Belgrade. “In other words,” Ivashov said, “everything which we understand by the term military cooperation” (Russian Public TV, October 13).
…NOTWITHSTANDING POSSIBLY DIVERGENT OPINIONS.