Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 182

The threat to reconsider Russia’s relations with NATO, contained in the Duma’s resolution on Kosovo (see above), also showed up in a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry and in unofficial remarks by a Defense Ministry official. The unnamed senior military official charged that NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia would create a “new geo-strategic situation in Europe” and undermine the cooperation that has taken place to date between Russia and the Western alliance. “The Russian public and State Duma will demand an immediate severing of relations and the country’s withdrawal from the Russia-NATO Founding Act,” the official said. “All contacts with NATO will be called off,” he added, while NATO’s liaison office in Moscow will be terminated and Russia will end its involvement in the NATO Partnership for Peace program. In addition, NATO strikes on Yugoslavia would doom ratification by Russia’s parliament of the START II strategic arms reduction treaty (Russian agencies, October 2).

Russia has warned previously that it could reconsider its cooperative relations with NATO, most particularly when criticizing talk of NATO membership for former Soviet states. In fact, however, real cooperation between Moscow and the Western alliance has progressed only fitfully–and painfully–since Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed the Russia-NATO Founding Act in Paris on May 27, 1997. Russia has dragged its feet in establishing a military presence at NATO headquarters in Brussels–something that was spelled out in the Founding Act–and has disappointed NATO officials with its desultory approach to the Partnership for Peace program. Tensions between Russia and the West over Kosovo have also adversely affected Russia-NATO relations in the past. In June of this year, for example, Moscow complained bitterly that it had been misled over planning for NATO air exercises in the skies over Macedonia and Albania. In an apparent act of retaliation, the Russian Defense Ministry withdrew its military representative to NATO, Lieutenant-General Viktor Zavarzin, back to Moscow. That incident led a senior Defense Ministry official, General Leonid, to demand that Moscow be given a greater say in NATO’s activities (Russian agencies, June 23).