Speaking yesterday in Mexico City, Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov outlined three areas of significant disagreement between Moscow and the West. Primakov pointed first to NATO enlargement, disclaiming any veto prerogative for Russia but nevertheless repeating Moscow’s well-worn formulation that NATO’s military infrastructure should not extend any closer to Russia’s borders. Everything else, he suggested, is negotiable. Second, Primakov criticized the West for viewing CIS integration as Russian neo-imperialism. Primakov described that these processes as objective, and he warned that a failure by the West to recognize this could cause serious future problems in relations with Russia. Finally, Primakov said Russian ratification of the START-2 Treaty was a potentially serious problem for Moscow and Washington because Russia would first require guarantees that the United States will not violate the ABM Treaty. (Interfax, May 21)
Primakov’s remarks on NATO enlargement were echoed by a Russian deputy foreign minister in Dublin, Ireland. Sergei Krylov said that Moscow would continue to oppose "full" NATO membership for Central and Eastern European countries because that could entail the deployment of nuclear weapons and additional military contingents in close proximity to Russia’s borders. Krylov said that these countries — along with the three Baltic States — might also seek to meet their security needs by joining the EU and other regional non-military groupings. (Itar-Tass, May 21) The countries mentioned by Krylov have repeatedly declared their desire for full NATO membership.
Russian Foreign Minister Launches Latin American Trip.