Turning the tables on Russia, a top NATO official cautioned yesterday in Moscow that creation of a Russian-led military bloc could accelerate NATO enlargement. Russian leaders have threatened repeatedly to organize a CIS military bloc to counter NATO should the latter alliance expand its membership. However, NATO deputy secretary Gebhardt von Moltke also said that expansion of NATO was by choice an evolutionary process and that no immediate plans existed to admit any new members. During his visit to Moscow, Moltke emphasized that an expanded NATO was no threat to Russia and urged a closer working relationship between Russia and the alliance, particularly under the aegis of the Partnership for Peace program. (5)
Moltke’s appearance in Moscow followed on the heels of a high-profile visit by NATO’s European commander and appears to be part of what a Russian daily described as a "NATO charm offensive." Launched by NATO General Secretary Javier Solana, the so-called "offensive" seeks to improve relations between NATO and Russia and to ease Russian concerns over the former’s expansion. The policy is said to be partly inspired by a belief that recent belligerent statements on NATO plans by Moscow are meant primarily for domestic consumption during an election year. (6)
Peer Criticizes Performance Of Chechen Commander Raduyev.