On the eve of the historic NATO summit in Madrid, an unnamed Russian government source yesterday claimed that Moscow had, in fact, managed to outmaneuver those Eastern European countries now seeking membership in NATO. The official said that the recently signed Russia-NATO Founding Act — and the creation of a Russia-NATO Permanent Joint Council specified therein — will provide Moscow with an influential voice in alliance affairs some two years before any of the new Eastern European states invited into NATO actually achieves full membership. The official gloated also over the tensions now apparent in the alliance as it struggles with the first wave of enlargement and other issues, and predicted that any concrete steps toward the induction of a second wave of new members — including, potentially, the Baltic States — would not occur before the year 2001. Russian leaders have suggested repeatedly that they would consider membership in the alliance for any of the former Soviet republics as grounds for renouncing the terms of the Russia-NATO Founding Act.
Moscow yesterday also kept up its pressure on Austria not to give up its status of neutrality and to reject calls at home that it too consider membership in NATO. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady Tarasov said that Russia is closely following developments in Austria and made clear that the Kremlin would be anything but indifferent to their outcome. Less than a month ago Russia’s Foreign Ministry also warned Vienna against considering NATO membership and made clear that Moscow opposes any enlargement of the Western alliance — and not merely its expansion eastward toward Russia’s borders. (Russian news agencies, July 7. See also Monitor, June 12)
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