Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 117

In response to Washington’s announcement last week that the U.S. supports NATO membership for only Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary in the alliance’s initial round of expansion, Russia on June 13 merely reiterated its long-standing opposition to NATO enlargement in general. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Valery Nesterushkin told reporters that Moscow continues to consider enlargement "a major mistake by the West." He also restated Moscow’s desire that the OSCE — and not NATO — function as the cornerstone of any future European security system.

A similar message was conveyed by Russian first deputy defense minister Andrei Kokoshin during talks with NATO defense ministers in Brussels. Kokoshin reportedly told NATO secretary general Javier Solana that the recent signing of the Russia-NATO Founding Act does not reflect any change in Moscow’s opposition to enlargement. He added that Moscow intends to continue pursuing bilateral relations both with individual NATO member states and with other countries around the world, including India and China. Kokoshin also met with U.S. defense secretary William Cohen on June 13. Cohen reportedly emphasized Washington’s own desire to advance cooperation between the Russian and U.S. armed forces. (Russian news agencies, June 13)

Meanwhile, Moscow is undoubtedly watching with interest a rift that is developing between the U.S. and several of its NATO allies over Washington’s announcement last week. On June 13 the leaders of France, Germany, and Canada indicated that they will continue to fight for the candidacies of Slovenia and Romania as well as those of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. "One individual statement is in no way an advance decision," German chancellor Helmut Kohl said of the U.S. announcement. (Reuter, June 13) Differences over NATO expansion are likely to get a thorough airing at the G-7 summit meeting later this week in Denver.

Okudzhava to be Buried this Week in Moscow.