Moscow reacted warily over the weekend to the Clinton Administration’s announcement that Madeleine Albright, currently U.S. ambassador to the UN, will be nominated for the post of Secretary of State. Although Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov publicly described Albright as a "strong professional" and a "good partner for dialogue," foreign policy experts and commentators in Moscow suggested that the appointment could raise new tensions in an already strained bilateral relationship. Those commentators described Albright as more outspoken than outgoing U.S. secretary of state Warren Christopher, and observed that the Czech-born U.S. diplomat is, among other things, a vigorous proponent of NATO enlargement. Not surprisingly, Eastern European leaders were said to be especially pleased by the nomination, and Czech UN Ambassador Karel Kovanda was quoted as describing Albright as "a shimmering light in our diplomatic heaven." (Interfax, Reuter, AP, December 6) Moscow has harshly criticized the West for its plans to expand NATO and has maneuvered–thus far unsuccessfully–to acquire some sort of veto power over the inclusion of Eastern European and former Soviet states in the alliance.
A December 7 commentary in a leading Russian daily was almost alarmist in its suggestion that the Clinton Administration’s newly-named security team is dominated by anti-Russian hawks. (In addition to Albright, Clinton has nominated retiring Maine senator William Cohen for secretary of defense and National Security Advisor Anthony Lake for CIA head; Lake’s assistant, Samuel Berger, will succeed his boss.) The commentary said that Russia’s Foreign Ministry is unprepared to deal with Albright and intimated that the U.S. foreign policy team as a whole will endeavor to drive Russia to the "sidelines of international politics." (Segodnya, December 7) According to a U.S. daily, Albright will likely focus on managing the entry of Eastern European countries into NATO, while her deputy, Strobe Talbott, will attempt to prevent NATO enlargement from causing a rupture in relations with Russia. (The Washington Post, December 8)
Mini-Demo Mourns Soviet Collapse.