Three days of consultations among the leaders of the G-7 nations, Russia, and Ukraine came to a close yesterday with results little different from what had been expected: modest progress was made in promoting international cooperation in the furtherance of nuclear security and safety as Western leaders soft-pedaled criticism of Russia in hopes of boosting Boris Yeltsin’s chances for reelection. On the substantive side, several agreements were announced April 20, including a joint program on preventing illegal trafficking of nuclear materials, a joint declaration on nuclear safety and security, and a joint statement on a nuclear test ban. Summit leaders also won a reluctant commitment from Kiev to close the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. (Reuter, April 20) Yeltsin said he would commit Russia to signing the 1993 London convention prohibiting nuclear waste dumping at sea. (UPI, April 19)
But the focus of attention appeared to be aimed equally at promoting Yeltsin’s candidacy. G-7 leaders stopped just short of an outright endorsement and largely avoided public mention of such issues as the war in Chechnya or perceived shortcomings in Russia’s nuclear security system. And although he appeared disoriented during the April 20 news conference, in general Yeltsin appeared to revel in the spotlight. He reportedly astonished his listeners during a sumptuous reception on the evening of April 19 with a rambling 45-minute speech describing how he would win the upcoming the election. (New York Times, April 21)
…Leaving Behind a Few Notes of Discord.