Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 46

Continued public proclamations of its enduring opposition to NATO enlargement notwithstanding, Russia seems less sure-footed of late in its strategy toward the Western alliance. During a visit to London on February 27-March 1, Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov proposed at one point that NATO postpone its enlargement plans in order to permit Russia to accelerate its democratic reforms, and on another occasion suggested that the signing of a legally-binding agreement between Russia and NATO would facilitate Russia’s ratification of the Start II Treaty. (Russian news agencies, February 27-March 1) NATO has already made clear its intent to go forward with enlargement this summer and its willingness to sign an agreement with Moscow that is politically — but not legally — binding (and thus not subject to ratification by the 16 NATO member-states). Primakov appeared to be grasping at straws: neither of his proposed inducements is likely to be seen as credible or compelling enough to induce NATO to rethink those policies.

But such casting about may be a reflection less of confusion in the Kremlin than of an evolution in the tactics being used by Russia to counter NATO’s enlargement plans. Western officials now reportedly believe that, despite the continuing rhetoric against enlargement, the Kremlin has resigned itself to the fact that it cannot stop the process, but that it can make the admission of new members as diplomatically painful for NATO as possible. The major goals of this approach, the officials believe, are to compel NATO to halt any expansion beyond the first wave of inductees, expected to be named this summer; to force upon even these new inductees a limited form of membership; and to exact from the West a variety of concessions in exchange for Moscow’s cooperation. The Russians "seem to think that dragging the talks out may produce more Western concessions and that if it gets too painful the alliance will never try expansion again," one Western official commented. (The New York Times, March 4)

Workers and Management in Defense Industries Unhappy.