Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov renewed Moscow’s attack on NATO enlargement yesterday, calling it a move in the wrong direction and one which would only create new dividing lines in Europe. Ivanov’s remarks came during talks in Moscow with Knut Vollebaek, current chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Norway’s foreign minister. Ivanov also complained that NATO remains a military alliance and that enlargement will bring NATO’s military infrastructure closer to Russia’s borders. Under such circumstances, he said, Russia would continue to use the NATO-Russia Founding Act, as well as the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council (PJC), to minimize the impact of NATO enlargement on European and Russian security. He also repeated Moscow’s oft-uttered call for OSCE–and not NATO–to serve as the cornerstone of any new post-Cold War European security system (Russian agencies, March 10).
Ivanov’s remarks came as Russian General Staff Chief Anatoly Kvashnin held consultations yesterday under the auspices of the PJC with NATO military leaders in Brussels. Discussions were reportedly centered primarily on the Kosovo conflict and on NATO’s and Russia’s military doctrines. A Russian news source reported, however, that Kvashnin and the Russian military delegation had also used the talks in Brussels as another opportunity to attack NATO’s enlargement plans (Russian Television, March 10).
Ivanov’s remarks and the Russian military leaders’ complaints come as NATO moves toward its fiftieth anniversary summit–scheduled for Washington in April–and the inclusion of three new member states. Russia’s stepped-up attacks on enlargement, as well as on proposed changes in NATO’s mission, appear to be aimed at exploiting tensions within the alliance over those issues. Moscow’s actions also seem intended to ensure that, even if Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary are invited into the alliance as planned, NATO leaders will not move to expand the alliance still further. In particular, Moscow has drawn a “red line” around the former Soviet states, warning that efforts to bring them into NATO would cause Moscow to reconsider its partnership with the alliance.
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