Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 144

Despite the talk of Russian-U.S. relations having “turned a corner,” there was evidence yesterday of enduring differences between the two countries. This pertained, in particular, to Yugoslavia. “There is no doubt… that we disagree [on] what was going on in Kosovo,” Albright said. “Neither of us made any bones about that.” The two sides could yet clash over the question of aid to Serbia–yesterday’s partial understanding on the issue notwithstanding. In addition, Ivanov indicated once again yesterday that Moscow has little sympathy for Western efforts to remove Milosevic from office. These and related issues are likely to be rehashed again later this week when world leaders converge in Sarajevo for talks on an aid package for the Balkans (AP, Kyodo, July 26).

But Moscow’s continuing disgruntlement with the United States was apparent in other areas as well yesterday. In the course of his remarks to the ASEAN forum, for example, Ivanov once again dusted off Moscow’s call for the creation of an international order based “on the principles of a multipolar world.” That is the standard Kremlin formulation–and one increasingly heard in other capitals also–to denote a world order in which the current preponderant influence of the United States is dissipated among a number of regional power centers, including Moscow. Ivanov likewise referred anew to NATO’s air campaign against Yugoslavia as a “relapse into a position-of-strength policy” and a development at odds with the multipolar world order which Moscow wants. “The use of force by NATO against Yugoslavia–without the sanction of the UN Security Council–has questioned all the positive achievements in international relations during recent years, giving rise to natural worries of states for their security,” he was quoted as saying.

In line with its calls for a multipolar world, Moscow in recent years has often balanced initiatives highlighting improved ties to Washington with simultaneous proclamations of the importance which the Kremlin attaches to Chinese-Russian relations. This week has been no exception. A Chinese daily yesterday published an interview with Ivanov in which the Russian foreign minister spoke of joint Russian-Chinese efforts to promote a multipolar world and the formation of a “new world order.” In an obvious reference to NATO’s air war in the Balkans–which both Moscow and Beijing loudly opposed–Ivanov also depicted Moscow and Beijing as defenders of the UN Charter and international law. “The extension of Russian-Chinese interaction,” Ivanov said, “will continue to prove an important stabilizing factor in the world.”

In his remarks to the ASEAN forum, moreover, Ivanov yesterday again accented Moscow’s unhappiness over the proposed development of a Japanese-U.S. ballistic missile defense system. Ivanov charged that the Japanese-U.S. system–development of which is also opposed by China–would undermine the balance of forces in the Pacific region while raising tensions and triggering an arms race (Itar-Tass, Xinhua, July 26). Although Ivanov apparently did not mention it on this occasion, Russia and China have also made clear their unhappiness over recent efforts by Japan and the United States to expand the parameters of their more general military cooperation in the Far East.