STAND-OFF OVER NATO ENLARGEMENT CONTINUES.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 180
The stand-off between Russia and the West over NATO enlargement continued yesterday following talks in Norway between Russian defense minister Igor Rodionov and his NATO counterparts. On the positive side, Rodionov declared that differences over the alliance’s plans would not keep Russia from continuing to cooperate with NATO in Bosnia and elsewhere. "We will confirm in practice that we are ready to cooperate for the sake of the preservation of peace," Rodionov was quoted as saying. The same point was made by Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov during his recent visit to New York. (See Monitor, September 24)
But also like Primakov, Rodionov made very clear that Moscow continues to oppose the alliance’s expansion plans. He spoke of the Russian public’s difficulty in accepting that "NATO is a peaceful organization with good purposes only," and asked why enlargement is moving forward "at a time when Western officials admit there is no threat to their security from Russia." More substantively, Rodionov repeated Russian warnings that enlargement would undermine the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and, without providing details, said that Russia would take "adequate" measures to counter enlargement should it become a fact. A statement released by the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow, moreover, said that Rodionov would make clear to his counterparts in Norway Moscow’s belief that NATO’s "real adaptation to the new geopolitical conditions should proceed not through its expansion, but by turning NATO into an organization for preventing and settling crises and carrying out peace-making missions in accordance with mandates issued by the UN Security Council and the OSCE." (Itar-Tass, September 26)
The talks yesterday in Norway represented Rodionov’s first trip abroad since his appointment as defense minister, and his first face-to-face meeting with U.S. defense secretary William Perry and many other NATO defense chiefs. Perry, in fact, was especially blunt in his public statements on enlargement, saying that Russian objections to the process are unfounded and insisting that enlargement will proceed without or without Russia’s cooperation.
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