Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 19

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright left Moscow yesterday morning after two days of talks with top Russian leaders. In their discussions both sides underscored how important improved bilateral Russian-U.S. cooperation is, but produced little to suggest any imminent substantive progress. The two sides did, apparently, manage to narrow their differences over how best to amend the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty to reflect evolving post-Cold War realities. They also agreed to increase the U.S. Defense Department’s monitoring of American satellite launches by Russian rockets in Kazakhstan. But the two sides remained deeply divided over the crises in Iraq and Kosovo, Russian-Iranian missile and nuclear cooperation, issues related to NATO’s planned enlargement, and U.S. plans to develop a missile defense system.

In the course of her stay in the Russian capital, Albright met twice with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and once with Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. Albright and Primakov had come to know each other well during the latter’s earlier tenure as Russian foreign minister. The U.S. secretary of state also held a twenty-five minute telephone conversation with ailing Russian President Boris Yeltsin on January 26. In addition, she met with Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed and Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky, as well as with the Russian State Duma’s communist speaker, Gennady Seleznev (Russian and international agencies, January 25-27). Luzhkov, Lebed and Yavlinsky are all presumptive candidates in Russia’s next presidential election, and Albright’s decision to meet with them reflects the Clinton administration’s efforts to begin the transition to a post-Yeltsin era in Russia.

In remarks to reporters on January 26, following her two days of talks, Albright said that Washington and Moscow still had differences. But she applauded what she described as the ability of each government “to speak in frankness and friendship with each other about the common problems we face.” Ivanov spoke in similar terms, saying that the “lack of agreement of our views on some issues must not be an obstacle to the development of our ‘partnerly’ relations” (Reuters, Russian agencies, January 27).