Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 118

Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov has restated Russia’s claim to great power status and rejected the views of those who argue that Moscow’s domestic weakness compels it to assume a non-assertive diplomatic posture. In wide-ranging remarks on the contours of Russian foreign policy made in Moscow June 19, he argued instead that "an active foreign policy is necessary above all else for the resolution of internal tasks," particularly during the current transition away from the Cold War order. Primakov singled out three tendencies that Russian diplomacy, in his view, is compelled to counter: first, the notion that the Cold War ended with "victors and vanquished" and that Russia is among the latter; second, the construction of a world order that subordinates the national interests of other states to those of the U.S. as the world’s single superpower; and third, the possibility that Russia might become nothing more than a "resource appendage" to the world economy.

Primakov also restated Moscow’s intention to pursue its interests across the globe, arguing that an over-concentration on relations with the U.S. would limit Russia’s diplomatic maneuverability and ultimately lose it the respect of Washington. In a similar fashion, he suggested that partnership with the West as a whole was inimical to Russian interests if its was purchased at the cost of Russia’s own diplomatic independence. While also restating Moscow’s "categorical" opposition to NATO enlargement, he nevertheless called for "dialogue and compromise" on the issue and said Moscow would welcome friendly relations with a "non-expanding" Western alliance. But Primakov reiterated Moscow’s implacable opposition to the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe and the broader extension of NATO’s military infrastructure to Russia’s Western border. (Interfax, June 20)

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