On the eve of NATO’s formally accepting three new member states, Russian politicians yesterday continued to criticize the alliance’s enlargement plans. Former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov called enlargement a strategic mistake and an unnecessary burden on taxpayers in the West. He also repeated a now familiar Russian argument to the effect that enlargement will help bring communists and fascists to power in Russia (Itar-Tass, March 12). Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary are scheduled to formally join the NATO alliance today during a ceremony in Independence, Missouri which will mark the alliance’s fiftieth anniversary.
The Russian Defense Ministry’s chief for cooperation with foreign countries, Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, yesterday said that Moscow is planning no military measures to counter the entry of the three former Warsaw Pact states into NATO. But he warned that any future efforts to expand NATO “with the goal of restricting Russia’s geopolitical and military strategic space could move [Moscow] to take measures in response.” The often abrasive Ivashov nevertheless suggested that Moscow’s policies for the time being would be concentrated on efforts to improve ties with NATO and its member states. Russia will also seek reductions in military forces and military activities in Europe, he said (Russian agencies, March 11).
Another Russian general was less measured in his response. Colonel General Leonti Kuznetsov, commander of the key Moscow Military District, told journalists yesterday that enlargement would have the most severe consequences for Russia. Kuznetsov said that NATO remains a military alliance with the same general purpose as that which existed during the Cold War–to conduct war against Russia if necessary. Kuznetsov intimated that the Kremlin’s recent military reform efforts, which have included significant reductions in the country’s ground forces, have left Russia vulnerable to NATO’s military might. He also criticized the military doctrine principles which are driving Russia’s force reduction efforts, and suggested that they had dealt a blow to the armed forces (Russian agencies, March 12).
BEIJING AND MOSCOW CONSULTING ON U.S. MISSILE DEFENSE PLAN FOR ASIA.