Nearly a month after the signing of the Russia-NATO Founding Act, Moscow yesterday continued its drumbeat of criticism against NATO on two continents. During a speech in New York, Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin reiterated Moscow’s contention that enlargement is a "fundamental mistake." He also suggested that the Kremlin had signed the political agreement with NATO in the belief that the Western alliance is in the process of transforming itself — presumably in line with Moscow’s demands that NATO become a more politically oriented organization with its military activities limited to peacekeeping and policing operations.
In comments made at a seminar in Prague, the Russian ambassador to NATO, Vitaly Churkin, was more pointed. He declared that Moscow retains strategic interests in the Baltic states and restated Russia’s opposition to the entry of these three countries into NATO. He also intimated that tensions and instability in Europe are likely to increase in the wake of NATO’s July 8-9 summit in Madrid — at which invitations are to be extended to at least three aspirants for NATO membership — because of disgruntlement in those countries not given invitations. (Itar-Tass, June 24)
Meanwhile, although the NATO summit is only three weeks away, Moscow remains vague as to who it will send to represent Russia in Madrid. According to an unnamed source at NATO headquarters in Brussels, the Kremlin may decide to send Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to the NATO event. That unsubstantiated report, published on June 24, followed an announcement by Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky on June 20 that Russia would indeed send a representative to the summit — "but not at the ministerial level." A day later Russian president Boris Yeltsin reportedly told French president Jacques Chirac that Moscow would be represented in Madrid "at a high level," a formulation that was repeated yesterday by a Foreign Ministry spokesman. These not entirely consistent reports suggest that Moscow remains ambivalent about its presence at a summit that is to launch the enlargement process so strongly opposed by the Kremlin. (Russian agencies, June 20-23)
Banking Scandal in Lithuania.