Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 5

Russian foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev’s January 5 resignation has generated diverse and sometimes contradictory reactions in the Baltic states and the countries of the CIS. In Ukraine, President Leonid Kuchma expressed regret over Kozyrev’s departure, characterizing him as "an open and democratic person" and a "desirable partner." Ukrainian foreign minister Hennady Udovenko said in retrospect that Kozyrev had "worked for advancing Russian-Ukrainian relations" and that his resignation produced "a certain sense of loss." With an eye on future Russian policy, Udovenko said that "personal characteristics influence policymaking to a considerable extent." The Latvian Foreign Ministry spokesman predicted that a change of ministers would make little difference in Russian foreign policy. In Estonia (which, like Latvia, is not a member of the CIS), Foreign minister Siim Kallas told a news conference that Kozyrev had been unfriendly toward Estonia and his departure was not to be regretted. Kallas predicted that any successor foreign minister, including one supported by the Communists, would pursue "Russian great power interests" toward Estonia. Yet Kallas noted that Russian policy would "depend on government positions, not on a minister’s personal characteristics." While Kozyrev had to bow to domestic hardliners to achieve success with the west, his successor will bow to the west in order to pursue Russian objectives in other regions, said Kallas. (12).

The differing reactions reflect the experiences of the various countries with Kozyrev and Russian foreign policy during his tenure. Ukraine’s view will likely be shared by Georgia; Estonia’s by Azerbaijan — against whom Kozyrev’s Ministry pursued a particularly aggressive policy on the issue of Caspian oil. The Russian Foreign Ministry’s initial caretaker, deputy minister Sergei Krylov, has been responsible for relations with CIS countries. His promotion would probably be welcomed by most CIS members due to his generally moderate positions.

Chechnya: Russian Army Attacks, Democrats Protest.