One of the key architects of the Clinton administration’s Russia policy said yesterday that Washington hopes Boris Yeltsin’s recent election victory will promote "real progress" in the dialogue over NATO enlargement. According to Strobe Talbott, Washington would like to reach "an understanding, a set of arrangements" with Russia that would result both in an expanded NATO and a united Europe in which Moscow would be "an absolutely key participant and key beneficiary" of the enlargement process. NATO desires a dialogue with Russia not about whether to expand, but about the "context in which NATO enlargement is going to go forward," he said. Talbott also suggested that NATO’s willingness not to station tactical nuclear weapons in new Eastern European member states had met one of Russia’s key objections to enlargement.
Talbott, who was addressing the U.S.-Russia Business Council, also suggested that Yeltsin’s victory had vindicated the Clinton administration’s policy of "support and engagement for Russian reform," shorthand for its virtual endorsement of the Russian incumbent. Yeltsin’s victory, he added, should open new cooperation with the U.S. on economic matters and in crime fighting. But Talbott criticized recent remarks by Russian Security Council secretary Aleksandr Lebed that criticized foreign religions in Russia as pernicious influences. Such statements, he said, were contrary to the "imperative that Russia continue to develop as a multi-ethnic and indeed a multi-faith democracy." Talbot’s remarks come as vice president Al Gore prepares for a July 14-17 visit to Moscow. (Reuter, July 11)
…But Deplores Russian Military Operations in Chechnya.