Reaffirming Russia’s opposition to the inclusion of the Baltic states in NATO, Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov yesterday called for devising "some other type" of security guarantees for the three states. Primakov offered unilateral Russian guarantees or, alternatively and without naming NATO, joint guarantees to be provided by Russia and "the West." He added that Russia does not oppose the Baltic states’ accession to "any European organizations." Primakov spoke following a meeting in St. Petersburg with U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who then proceeded on a prescheduled visit to Lithuania. (Russian agencies, July 13) The timing suggested that Primakov hoped to have his proposal conveyed to the Baltic states or, at a minimum, to make Russian policy appear constructive by offering some kind of reassurance to the Baltic states regarding their security.
The operative part of the Russian proposal centers on a system of cross-guarantees, to be provided to the Baltic states by Russia and the West in a treaty. Moscow officials have aired several trial balloons to that effect. President Boris Yeltsin made a public proposal along those lines following his meeting with U.S. president Bill Clinton in Helsinki. The plan, if accepted, would in effect establish a competitive condominium in the region and turn it into the kind of "gray area" its countries seek to prevent. Baltic officials have already indicated that they will not consider any substitute to the goal of accession to NATO. And they have ruled out any entanglement in contractual obligations to Russia — something that security pacts inherently presuppose.
Also yesterday, Yeltsin stated that he was "particularly dissatisfied" with the NATO summit communique’s oblique reference to the Baltic states as aspirants to NATO membership. Russia will "continue to categorically oppose the Baltic and CIS states’ participation in NATO activities," Yeltsin told Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari at their meeting in Karelia. (Russian agencies, July 13)
Dnipropetrovsk Figure Nominated for Prime Minister of Ukraine.