Publication: Fortnight in Review Volume: 6 Issue: 11

Russian diplomatic assertiveness was also manifested in an unseemly attack launched May 22 by Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky on the Council of Europe and the leader of its parliamentary assembly (PACE), Lord Russell-Johnston. Yastrzhembsky accused the PACE lawmaker of holding secret negotiations with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. He also hinted darkly that the Council of Europe’s recent efforts to punish Moscow for its bloody Caucasus war reflected some sort of conspiracy between Europe’s premier human rights organization and the Chechen leadership. Russell-Johnston sharply dismissed Yastrzhembsky’s insinuations and pointed out that he has not only informed the Russian government about all of his conversations with Maskhadov, but that those conversations were directed in large part toward winning freedom for Russian prisoners held by the rebel forces.

These latest Russian actions come on the eve of next month’s Russian-U.S. summit meeting in Moscow. During a visit to the Russian capital on May 18-19 by U.S. National Security Advisor Samuel Berger, commentators suggested that enduring differences between Russia and the United States on key strategic arms control issues could drive that topic from the top of the summit’s discussion agenda. They also speculated that Putin and U.S. President Bill Clinton are likely to focus instead simply on improving Russian-U.S. ties more generally. If so, that would signal a probable end to Clinton administration efforts to negotiate a so-called “grand bargain” with Moscow, one that would have seen Russia agree to U.S.-sought changes in the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in exchange for Washington’s agreement to Russian calls for additional cuts in the two countries’ strategic arsenals. It seems likely also that Moscow will now step up its efforts to make the United States pay diplomatically for its arms policies. U.S. threats to the ABM treaty and American national missile defense plans have generated considerable unease abroad, including among some of Washington’s key NATO allies.

“The Fortnight in Review” is prepared by senior analysts Jonas Bernstein (Russia), Stephen Foye (Security and Foreign Policy), and Vladimir Socor (Non-Russian republics). Editor, Stephen Foye. If you would like information on subscribing to the Monitor, or have any comments, suggestions or questions, please contact us by e-mail at, by fax at 301-562-8021, or by postal mail at The Jamestown Foundation, 4526 43rd Street NW, Washington, DC 20016. Unauthorized reproduction or redistribution of “The Fortnight in Review” is strictly prohibited by law. Copyright (c) 1983-2002 The Jamestown Foundation