Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 103

The commander in chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, completed a visit to China earlier this week during which the major topic of discussion appeared to be the conflict in the Balkans. In addition to meeting his opposite number, Vice Admiral Shi Yongsheng, Kuroyedov held talks during his stay with Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian and with the chief of the Chinese army’s General Staff, Fu Quanyou.

The two sides spoke during Kuroyedov’s visit of the need to further expand military cooperation, particularly between the Russian and Chinese navies. But the emphasis of the talks appeared clearly to be on Yugoslavia. Chinese officials were quoted as thanking Russia for its support following NATO’s accidental attack on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Both Kuroyedov and his Chinese hosts indicated that the two countries would step up their joint consultations on the Balkans crisis. They also reiterated their joint support for the creation of a “multipolar” international system–that is, one not dominated by the United States and NATO (Russian agencies, Xinhua, May 24-25).

In the immediate aftermath of the Chinese embassy bombing on May 7, Russia’s special Balkans envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin traveled to Beijing for consultations with Chinese leaders. Although Russia has continued to claim that it backs a peace plan drafted on May 6 by representatives of Russia and the Group of Seven countries, Moscow has appeared since then to align itself with China’s more hardline position. Beijing has demanded an immediate end to NATO’s air campaign against Yugoslavia and has warned that it will not allow the UN Security Council to discuss a Kosovo peace settlement until the air campaign is terminated.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is scheduled to arrive in Beijing for a three-day visit beginning on June 1. Not surprisingly, reports say that the talks are expected to focus on Yugoslavia, and on Beijing’s calls for an early stop to the NATO bombing campaign (Kyodo, May 25).