Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 27

The International Security Conference, a high-level annual event which closed on February 7 in Munich, ended on a controversial note owing to the intervention of Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Gusarov. As if to dispel smug talk among some Western–primarily German–officials about a definitive end to the cold war, Gusarov accused the West of attempting to “destroy the world order” through NATO’s eastward enlargement. Reinforcing the familiar warning that Moscow had drawn a “red line” around the ex-Soviet republics, Gusarov insisted that the borders of the former USSR represented a “natural limit” to NATO’s enlargement.

Taking the floor in reply, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk described NATO as “essential to peace and security,” and its enlargement as apt to create a “zone of democracy and stability” in Central and Eastern Europe. Ukraine accepts neither a “red line” nor Moscow’s attempt to speak on behalf of independent countries, Tarasyuk said. A Georgian delegate spoke up in support of the Ukrainian stand (Itar-Tass, AP, February 8).

In Vilnius, Lithuanian parliament chairman Vytautas Landsbergis (whose country is not a CIS member) told Russian news agencies that the “red line” idea is “obtuse and retrograde.” Russian policy makers tend to speak of NATO’s enlargement “as if the Soviet Union and the communist bloc still existed,” the Lithuanian leader observed, adding that “such outdated thinking harms, in the first place, Russia itself” (Russian agencies, February 8).

In Moscow, the daily “Nezavisimaya gazeta”–flagship of CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky’s press trust–published an analysis similarly steeped in the sphere-of-influence thinking on the eve of the Munich conference. The analysis accused the United States of frustrating Russian policy “in the post-Soviet space and the former socialist camp, realizing that Russia has substantial chances of regaining its political influence in those areas, first of all in the CIS countries.” The analysis singled out “America’s penetration of Ukraine” as aimed at “counterbalancing Russia in Eastern Europe and in CIS integration processes” (Nezavisimaya gazeta, February 5).