In an interview carried May 29 by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov said that although the world would not see the return of the Cold War, Moscow would neither agree to be regarded as its loser nor to subordinate its national interests to those of the West. Primakov also reiterated Russia’s opposition to NATO enlargement and said that Moscow is prepared to take necessary military countermeasures should enlargement occur. (Itar-Tass, May 29) Primakov was in Italy for talks with Italian and EU leaders May 28-29. Italian foreign minister Lamberto Dini said May 28 that he anticipated steps would be taken during the next G-7 Summit to boost relations between Russia and the G-7. (Reuter, May 28)
During talks in Belgrade May 29-30 with the leaders of rump Yugoslavia, Serbia, and Montenegro, Primakov made clear both that Moscow hopes to establish a strategic relationship with Belgrade and that it will not be easily enlisted in the West’s efforts to prosecute Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. On the latter point, Yevgeny Primakov said May 30 that he considered Karadzic’s arrest "counterproductive insofar as it can only arouse further difficulties and even wreck the peace process." Primakov underscored that implementation of the peace process and cooperation with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia constituted for Moscow a "strategic course and not merely an interest." On May 29 Primakov and his counterpart from rump Yugoslavia signed a bilateral protocol of cooperation. Yesterday Primakov met for three hours with Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, after which both men endorsed the development of new economic ties and the strengthening of already existing economic cooperation. (Reuter, Itar-Tass, May 29 & 30; UPI, May 30)
Moscow’s hard-line opposition to Karadzic’s arrest suggests a looming confrontation with the United States, which has threatened to lobby for a reimposition of sanctions on rump Yugoslavia if it fails to hand over indicted war criminals. On the plane ride back to Moscow, Primakov reportedly stated Russia’s determination "to counter the West’s one-sided position" on implementation of the Dayton accords. (Interfax, May 30) A Russian newspaper commentary suggests that Moscow’s strategy will be to insist that the entire peace process not be endangered by the divisive war crimes issue. (Kommersant-daily, May 30)
Civil Defense Troops to Grow.