Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 164

Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov yesterday appeared to dash hopes that post-election Russia might be prepared to reach a speedy accommodation with the West on the subject of NATO enlargement. While delivering a speech in Switzerland, Primakov complained of "unfavorable tendencies" in the contemporary international order, including "new attempts to divide the world into ‘Cold War’ winners and losers." He suggested that certain forces were trying to relegate Moscow to the "loser" category, and to create around Russia an "image of a new enemy." According to Primakov, the broader thrust of this strategy is to push Russia to the margins of Europe and to isolate it from European developments. Primakov characterized NATO enlargement as a component of this strategy, and charged that its implementation would result in "sharply negative changes" in Russia’s geostrategic position. He also reiterated Moscow’s long-held view that while NATO has a role to play in Europe, the OSCE should constitute the primary pillar of any new post-Cold War European security architecture.

Among the other "negative tendencies" that Primakov criticized was one clearly involving the U.S. Primakov complained of "attempts to create a mono-polar world, to make the interests of all nations dependent on the interests of one super-power." But while that theme, and those pertaining to NATO and European security, have been voiced regularly by Russia’s foreign minister, an additional point that he made in Switzerland has not. In charging that "some circles" would like to turn Russia into a "raw material repository" for the world economic community, Primakov was integrating into his usual agenda a notion more commonly voiced by Russian nationalists and, perhaps not coincidentally, Aleksandr Lebed. The remark may be without real significance. But it, and the relatively hard-line language that Primakov employed in general yesterday, could also reflect what some non-Russian observers had feared would be Boris Yeltsin’s post-election debt to the nationalist forces that he courted during his campaign and that contributed to his eventual victory.

Chubais on Openness, Chechnya.