Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 234

On the eve of yet another international gathering expected to focus on the war in Chechnya, and with only a few days left until parliamentary elections at home, Moscow yesterday kept up its Cold War-era style attacks on the West. President Boris Yeltsin, fresh from a summit visit to China, which he used to rip the United States for its criticism of Russia’s crackdown in Chechnya, took a few more shots at Washington yesterday. During a Kremlin meeting with foreign ambassadors newly posted to Moscow, the Russian president propounded what Russian officials have described as their fight for a just world order founded on the principal of multipolarity. The now standard Russian formulation refers to a world order in which the United States and NATO are stripped of much of their international influence and replaced by various regional powers–Russia (surprise, surprise) among them. Yeltsin, who is currently presiding over a brutal military crackdown in the Russian Caucasus, also called for a future without war or the use of force. He suggested that his recent trip to China, and the agreements he reached there with the Chinese leadership, reflected the growing international support for this Russian world view (Russian agencies, December 16).

Spirited as Yeltsin’s remarks might have been, however, they made for unremarkable reading compared to a statement released yesterday by the Russian Foreign Ministry which criticized a statement released earlier this week by NATO foreign ministers condemning Russia’s war in the Caucasus (see the Monitor, December 16). Reportedly watered down at the insistence of the United States, the NATO statement was actually rather mild, stopping short of any mention of possible sanctions against Russia. But that had little bearing on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s reaction. “The latest outpouring of crocodile tears in Brussels over human rights strikes one as flagrant cynicism,” the Russian ministry said. It described the NATO statement as “pointless in its content, unacceptable in its essence and deeply immoral in its authorship.” The Foreign Ministry suggested that a NATO which had engaged in a “flagrant aggression” against Yugoslavia and which had rained down “collateral damage” over the Balkans “from the Adriatic Sea to Bulgaria” was in no position to criticize Moscow’s war in the Caucasus. It also reiterated that Russia’s “domestic policy issues are not, can not and will not be the subject of international dialogue, especially with NATO” (Reuters, AP, Russian agencies, December 16).