A Russian daily yesterday reported that Kremlin officials view U.S. secretary of state Warren Christopher’s September 6 speech, in which he said that new members should be invited to join NATO in spring or early summer of 1997 (see Monitor, September 9), as a vindication of Moscow’s hard-line opposition to the Western alliance’s expansion. Referring also to assurances given recently to Boris Yeltsin by visiting German chancellor Helmut Kohl, Russian government sources reportedly spoke of the West having "postponed" the date of enlargement from December, 1996, until 1997. That decision, according to one unnamed aide to Boris Yeltsin, indicates that "sensible views" are beginning to prevail in the West over the "NATO bureaucracy’s egotistical desire to speed up the alliance’s expansion."
But Moscow’s celebration on this point seems misplaced. On the specific issue of enlargement Christopher’s speech was largely a restatement of existing NATO policy and a reaffirmation of adherence to an already agreed-upon timetable. NATO had not planned to begin initiating new members at its December meeting.
The Russian officials also restated their long-held view that NATO should not expand at all. But more to the point, perhaps, was their wary reaction to Christopher’s call for a charter agreement between the alliance and Russia. They evinced no interest in a merely "consultative" arrangement with the Western alliance, but reportedly demanded an agreement that would provide Moscow with a role in European security decision-making equal to that of NATO members themselves. They also suggested that Moscow wants NATO to radically restructure itself in a way which, among other things, would greatly reduce the presence of the U.S. The West is unlikely to find either of those conditions acceptable. (Segodnya, September 10)
Chechen Congress Approves Khasavyurt Accords.