RODIONOV DELIVERS A STERN MESSAGE TO NATO.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 237
If NATO defense ministers thought that Igor Rodionov’s recent switch from uniform to mufti would soften the former general’s views about NATO expansion, they were quickly disabused of that notion when the Russian defense minister met with them in Brussels yesterday. All of their carefully-crafted language about not deploying nuclear weapons on the territory of any new members and of building a "strong, stable and enduring security partnership" with Russia fell on deaf ears. Rodionov reiterated Russia’s adamant opposition to the plan in terms that one NATO official described as "the language of the past." Rodionov warned that Russia would be forced to take unspecified retaliatory measures and hinted that these would include an end to Russian cooperation in arms control. At a press conference following the meeting, Rodionov pointed out that the admission of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia would increase NATO’s military potential by as much as 20 percent and would wipe out the buffer zone between Russia and NATO.
NATO had hoped that Rodionov would agree to establish permanent military liaison offices at NATO Headquarters in Brussels and at the two major NATO military commands: the European headquarters at Mons, Belgium, and the Atlantic headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia. Rodionov discounted that idea, however, as being "premature." Russia does have a liaison officer at Mons because of its participation in the NATO-led Bosnian efforts.
U.S. secretary of defense William Perry said after the meeting that it was clear there was "a broad and a deep perception in Russia that NATO expansion is a threat…." He added that both NATO and the Russian government had to act to correct "this misperception." Other NATO officials suggested that Rodionov was really not the key player in the dialogue with NATO. In fact, the proposed Charter between the two parties is to be negotiated by Secretary-General Javier Solana and Russian foreign minister Yevgeni Primakov. (Interfax, Reuters, RFE/RL, Xinhua, December 18)
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