Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 226

The muddle in Russia’s Ministry of Defense over the unexpected sacking of Ground Forces commander-in-chief Vladimir Semenov has apparently spilled over into Russia’s relations with the U.S. According to unofficial reports out of the MoD yesterday, Russian defense minister Igor Rodionov has decided to postpone a high-level visit to the U.S. that was to start today. That news was later confirmed by a Pentagon spokesman in Washington, who said that the trip would probably be rescheduled for "some time next year." The reasons for the last minute trip postponement have yet to be officially explained, but a Russian diplomat said that the uncertainty over Semenov’s status — and unhappiness among many officers over the harsh treatment meted out to the Ground Forces commander — had compelled Rodionov to cancel his visit. While in the U.S. Rodionov was to have met with Defense Secretary William Perry, Joint Chiefs of Staff head John Shalikashvili, heads of the State Department, congressmen, and presidential security advisor Anthony Lake. Rodionov’s visit was to have reciprocated a trip to Moscow in October by Perry. (Reuter, Itar-Tass, December 3)

In Moscow, meanwhile, the president’s office tried yesterday to distance itself further from Rodionov’s actions. A spokesman said that Boris Yeltsin had agreed only to suspend Semenov, on Rodionov’s recommendation, but that the issuance of a presidential decree to that affect awaited a further review of the charges leveled against the Russian commander. Semenov had been accused by Rodionov of behavior incompatible with the honor of a soldier, but no specifics regarding that onerous charge were forthcoming yesterday and Russia’s interior minister said that his office — like that of the general prosecutor’s — had not been involved in any investigation of Semenov. Observing that Semenov is popular in the army and that he is no loyalist of Rodionov’s predecessor, Army General Pavel Grachev, one Russian commentator quoted unnamed military officials as saying that Rodionov saw Semenov as a rival and therefore