Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 173

Yeltsin’s meeting with Hashimoto last week came as one Russian daily lamented that the country’s domestic crisis is having an adverse effect on its foreign policy activities. Nezavisimaya gazeta said that Russia’s economic problems, the recent government shake-up, and President Boris Yeltsin’s own inactivity are all conspiring to weaken Russia as a player on the international stage. The newspaper pointed in particular to Yeltsin’s recent cancellation of a number of scheduled meetings with foreign leaders, and questioned why the Russian president chose to meet “informally” with Hashimoto while an official visit to Russia by Japan’s foreign minister was canceled.

The paper also suggested that, although Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov intends to stay involved in foreign policy affairs, his energies will of necessity be directed primarily toward domestic problems. Despite the best efforts of Russia’s Foreign Ministry, the newspaper says, that is likely to mean a fall in the effectiveness of Russia’s diplomatic activities abroad (Nezavisimaya gazeta, September 17). Igor Ivanov, named foreign minister in the wake of Primakov’s departure from the post, has insisted that both the substance and the vigor of Russia’s foreign policy will remain unchanged under his stewardship.