Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 51

Russian political and military officials across the political spectrum continued on March 12 to criticize NATO’s formal acceptance of three new member states (see the Monitor, March 12). But Moscow’s complaints and warnings were, perhaps inevitably, mixed with more accommodating signals which reflected Russia’s fears of being marginalized by the enlargement process. President Boris Yeltsin’s press spokesman, for example, quoted the Russian leader on March 12 as saying that the entry of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary into NATO was neither a constructive step nor one which would promote a strengthening of international relations. The spokesman said, however, that Russia would nevertheless maintain its existing partnership relations with the Western Alliance.

The Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement on March 12 which reasserted Moscow’s opposition to enlargement and predicted that enlargement would sow discord on the European continent. The ministry also repeated Moscow’s calls to construct an alternative European security system which would emphasize the role of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) rather than NATO. In the same vein, the Foreign Ministry statement also said that Moscow would continue its efforts to use the partnership relations between the two sides–embodied in the Russia-NATO Permanent Joint Council–to create a “single Euro-Atlantic zone of stability, democracy and cooperation without lines of division.” The statement said that Russia hoped “for understanding and reciprocal moves from our partners” (Russian agencies, March 12).

Meanwhile, in remarks to reporters on March 12, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that Moscow has still not decided whether it will take part in NATO’s fiftieth anniversary celebration, scheduled for April in Washington. Ivanov said that Moscow would base its decision on several factors. One of those, he said, would involve revisions adopted by NATO in its military doctrine. Moscow would react negatively, he said, to any decision by the alliance to countenance the use of force without a UN mandate, or to act outside of NATO’s territory. Ivanov suggested that Moscow would also base its decision over whether to attend on the results of negotiations between the two sides on amendments to the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. He suggested that Moscow hoped to see positive results in those talks by the end of March (Itar-Tass, March 12).