While praising international efforts to mediate the crisis in the Middle East, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement yesterday complained that Moscow’s role in the recently achieved cease-fire in Lebanon — and its broader status "as cosponsor of the Middle East peace process" — had been "clearly underestimated." Russia was not included as a member of the observer group that will monitor implementation of the U.S.-brokered cease-fire. Describing the cease-fire as a temporary measure, the statement also called for the convocation of an international forum, similar to the 1991 Madrid conference, which would work toward achievement of a comprehensive peace settlement. (Itar-Tass, April 29)
As a key supporter of several Arab states, the USSR was, along with the United States, cosponsor of the 1991 conference and subsequent peace talks. Since then, Moscow’s influence in the region has declined precipitously, a trend which Russian foreign minister (and Middle East specialist) Yevgeny Primakov has tried to reverse since his appointment in January. But his aggressive efforts April 20-22 to win Russia a part in the latest peace talks foundered on Israel’s preference to deal only with the United States. (See Monitor, April 23 & 24) Moscow’s exclusion from the observer group has reportedly been seen by some in Moscow as a humiliation for Primakov. (AFP, April 27) Russia will participate in efforts to assist in Lebanon’s reconstruction.
Bellona Faces New Harassment by Russian Security Service.