The Kremlin yesterday appeared to confirm that Russia’s foreign and defense ministers will retain their posts in a new Russian government. Russian President Boris Yeltsin made a point of praising the two men — Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov and Defense Minister Igor Sergeev — during a Kremlin meeting on March 24. "The president was highly appreciative of the performance of the heads of the defense and foreign ministries," Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky was quoted as saying afterward. Yeltsin had also appeared to underscore his support for Sergeev when he met briefly with the Russian defense chief a day earlier. (AP, Reuter, Itar-Tass, March 24)
Yesterday’s developments came as political leaders around the world indicated that they expected no major changes in Russia’s foreign and security policies ascribable to the cabinet shake-up. The U.S. government, like a number of others, also expressed the hope that the changes launched by Yeltsin are intended to boost Russian economic reform efforts. Reports over the past two days have indicated, however, that officials in Washington at least were both unaware of the impending shake-up and somewhat disconcerted by the Kremlin’s silence in the immediate aftermath of its announcement. (The New York Times, March 24)
Washington’s surprise was seemingly intensified by the fact that then Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin had been in Washington only a few weeks before, when he was described as confident and in good humor. (The Washington Post, March 24) A Russian government spokesman yesterday denied reports that Chernomyrdin’s — and his government’s — dismissal was somehow connected to his U.S. visit. (Russian agencies, March 24)
Yet Another Report of Russian-Iranian Missile Cooperation.