Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 206

Several Russian dailies speculated on November 1 that Russia’s Security Council will soon play a more prominent role in dealings with NATO. The speculation was based on the statement of an unnamed Security Council official, who said on October 31 that a "well-known diplomat" would soon be appointed to a new deputy secretary post on the Council, with responsibility for relations between Russia and NATO. (Kommersant-daily, November 1; see above) That report came only a day after Rybkin called publicly for Russia to be admitted into NATO’s political structures. Although the proposal had the appearance of an off-the-cuff remark, a Russian daily on November 1 claimed to have learned from Kremlin sources that, in fact, it reflected the well-considered position of some officials within the presidential administration. The newspaper suggested, moreover, that the Foreign Ministry may have been by-passed in the formulation and public airing of Rybkin’s proposal. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, November 1; see Monitor, November 1)

Indeed, Rybkin’s remark on NATO appeared to contradict directly a position set out by Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov in a long article published by Nezavisimaya gazeta on October 22. There, Primakov described "any talk of the possible entry of Russia into NATO" as "insidious." (See Monitor, October 24-25) The possibility that the presidential administration and the Security Council — which is subordinate to the president — could be emerging as an alternative and competing center of foreign-policy decision-making was given some credence by the announcement on November 1 that a new Foreign Policy Council will be created within the president’s office (see above). For all of that, the canny Primakov remains widely respected among Russia’s political elite, and his hard-nosed dealings with the West on NATO enlargement seem still to reflect the consensus view of Russia’s security establishment.

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