Russian officials appeared over the weekend to threaten additional measures aimed at distancing Moscow from the NATO military alliance. In an interview with the Spanish newspaper “Pais” on April 18, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov reportedly described NATO military operations against Yugoslavia as a violation of the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act–the formal agreement which established partnership relations between Moscow and the Western alliance.
Ivanov did not spell out what the consequences of that conclusion might be. Moscow has already cut off most of its formal ties to NATO, but has not yet renounced the partnership agreement itself. Ivanov did say that NATO actions in the Balkans had undone much of the good will which has developed in recent years between Russia and NATO. Ivanov also restated Moscow’s now standard denunciations of both NATO’s military strikes and the alliance’s intention to discuss a new military concept which would broaden the scope of possible NATO military actions in the future (Russian agencies, April 18).
Meanwhile, a German magazine reported on April 17 that Moscow could refuse to participate in an international peacekeeping force in Yugoslavia which includes troops from the NATO countries currently engaged in the airstrikes on Yugoslavia. Russia’s ambassador to Germany, Sergei Krylov, was quoted as telling the Moscow-based “Focus” news magazine that Russia “would participate in a Kosovo peace force under a UN or OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] mandate… but not together with the military from NATO countries currently involved in the air attacks. There are enough neutral countries” (AP, April 17). It is not clear whether Krylov’s remarks–which the West would not enthusiastically receive–reflect official Russian policy.
RUSSIA’S NAVAL CAUTION.