Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 2

Despite the establishment of a new presidential body December 26, Russia’s foreign policy-making establishment remains rudderless. The new Foreign Policy Council, tasked with "enhancing the effectiveness of Russia’s foreign policy," appears to symbolize only the latest administrative reshuffling of the foreign policy apparatus. A December 29 report described it exclusively as an advisory body that would convene once a month at most, suggesting that the new entity may prove to be only a minor player. (13) It is unclear how the new council will interact with the Foreign Ministry and the powerful Russian Security Council — two bodies that already appear to work intermittently at cross purposes with respect to Russian diplomacy. Neither is it known how the body will strengthen control over other ministries and governmental and non-governmental actors that often seem to pursue independent foreign policy lines.

Yeltsin created additional confusion when he suggested on December 27 that Andrei Kozyrev might be retained as Foreign Minister, despite a legislative barrier that prevents Kozyrev from holding the post while simultaneously serving as a member of the new Duma. Viktor Ilyukhin, leader of the communist party faction in the Duma, responded December 28 by threatening to raise the issue of depriving Kozyrev of his parliamentary seat should the latter appear at the Duma’s first session on January 16 as foreign minister. Meanwhile, a former Foreign Ministry official pointed out December 30 that, with presidential elections approaching in June, the tenure of any successor to Kozyrev would likely be short. Russian foreign policy seems to be entering a period of even greater instability at a time when crucial issues, like maintaining the peace process in Bosnia, require a steady hand in the Kremlin. (14)

U.S., Japan to Build Nuclear Waste Treatment Plant.