Ivashov’s hard-line commentary comes a year after the May 27 signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act in Paris, and a day before a ministerial session of the Permanent Joint Council in Luxembourg. The Council is a consultative body established by the Founding Act with the aim of giving Russia a voice–“but no veto”–in Alliance affairs. In addition to marking the one-year anniversary of the Founding Act, Council participants are to devote their energies to expanding Russia-NATO cooperation and to discuss such topics as nuclear security, the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and various military strategic issues. (Itar-Tass, May 25)
Russia is to be represented at the Council meeting by Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who also took the opportunity yesterday to restate Moscow’s dissatisfaction with various NATO’s policies. Speaking during a press conference in Kiev, Primakov reiterated Moscow’s opposition to NATO enlargement. He also noted that Russian society is against enlargement because “it can lead to a political crisis in Europe.” He also restated Moscow’s standard formulation that Moscow signed the NATO-Russia Founding Act not because it has resigned itself to enlargement, but in order to “minimize the effects of the Alliance’s expansion.” He described NATO as a Cold War-style military structure, and like Ivashov called for its transformation into a political organization dealing primarily with peacekeeping operations. (Russian agencies, May 27)
SERIES OF RUSSIAN-JAPANESE TALKS LOOKS SET.