As he has done so often in the past during meetings with foreign leaders, President Boris Yeltsin managed–a day after the May 26 visit of Norway’s king–to announce a policy initiative that subsequently required “clarification” from other Russian officials. On this occasion Yeltsin mentioned the possible withdrawal of “all old submarines from the Barents region” and the designation of the region as a “security zone.” Yeltsin’s remarks were ambiguous enough that they prompted Sweden’s Foreign Ministry to applaud what it said was Moscow’s proposal to withdraw all its submarines from the Barents Sea and to declare it a security area. (Itar-Tass, May 26) Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov later told Russian television that Yeltsin was referring to the withdrawal only of older submarines already earmarked for destruction. Russia was not, he said, considering withdrawing all its submarines from the Barents Sea. (NTV, May 26)
Moscow and Norway did sign three intergovernmental agreements yesterday. One involved an accord on scientific and technical cooperation. Another dealt with joint efforts to fight crime. The third–and most potentially most significant–agreement calls for the two countries to work together in protecting the environment as nuclear waste from Russia’s Northern Fleet is disposed of. The Norwegian side agreed to contribute some $30 million toward that effort. (Itar-Tass, May 26)
RUSSIAN BORDER GUARDS FIRE ON CHINESE FISHERMEN.