On May 27: “Russia will have to beef up again its strategic-operational forces in the northwestern direction, if former Soviet republics become candidates for admission to NATO.” Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, deputy chief of staff of Russia’s armed forces, issued this warning to the Baltic states in yesterday’s Nezavisimaya gazeta. Ivashov added that Russian measures might not be confined to conventional forces, but could also include deployment of tactical nuclear weapons. (Nezavisimaya gazeta cited by Russian agencies, May 27)
Ivashov’s responsibility in the Defense Ministry is to oversee international military cooperation. His statement can therefore be taken as an expression of official policy. It represents the obverse of the medal of President Boris Yeltsin’s proposal to reduce Russian forces in the northwest, in connection with a Baltic security pact which would preclude the Baltic states’ accession to NATO. Ivashov’s statement is consonant with those made also yesterday by other Russian officials with regard to the CIS and Belarus (see the CIS and Western sections in this issue).
RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION HAS MILITARY DEPARTMENT, PLANS JOINT TROOPS.