Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 200

In a broad overview of Moscow’s foreign and security policies published recently in a Russian daily (s ee Monitor, October 24), Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov seems to signal that, despite its enduring opposition to NATO enlargement, Moscow may indeed be inching toward an accommodation with the Western alliance. "Russia does not confine itself to an excessively negative attitude toward NATO expansion," Primakov writes, "but is ready to conduct a constructive dialogue with the organization’s member states in order to work out ‘rules of conduct’… that would suit everybody." Primakov is quick to qualify that statement, however. First, he restates his often-expressed view that any agreement between Russia and the alliance must more than merely declaratory. That is, it must spell out in specific terms both "the character, scope, and mechanism of political consultations and political decisions" and establish "the lines and limits of Russia’s participation in the alliance’s military infrastructure." Primakov also says that the agreement must contain "an extensive mandate for negotiations on adapting the CFE Treaty to current conditions."

Second, despite having just linked the two himself, Primakov attempts to decouple the issue of enlargement from that of Russia’s relations with NATO. Moscow is desirous of a "special relationship" with NATO, but is clearly reluctant to let the formalization of that relationship be construed by NATO as a quid pro quo for the alliance’s enlargement, let alone to "become a cover" for expansion. In the same vein, Primakov dismisses any talk of Russia itself joining NATO as "insidious" propaganda because, he argues, a Russian application for membership would legitimize the enlargement process but would undoubtedly not result in Moscow’s admission. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, October 22) Primakov’s remarks on NATO are noticeably absent any reference to former security chief Aleksandr Lebed’s calls earlier this month for Moscow to participate aggressively in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program as a means of exerting influence from within the alliance. In a more recent restatement of this view, Lebed observed convincingly that NATO is anything but monolithic, and that by failing to interact with the alliance Moscow is forfeiting any chance of influencing (or, perhaps, exploiting) significant differences of view among NATO member-states. (Trud, October 22. See also Monitor, October 8-10)

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