As has been the case in his recent meetings with leaders from Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov’s first visit to Warsaw produced amicable statements on bilateral relations in general, positive pledges to broaden economic ties, and no apparent resolution of differences on NATO enlargement. On day one of a two day trip, Primakov met with Polish foreign minister Dariusz Rosati and prime minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz. Primakov apparently offered a variation of the Foreign Ministry’s new and less belligerently framed line on NATO enlargement, declaring that Moscow favored the extension of NATO security guarantees to Poland so long as Warsaw did not actually join the alliance. But he reiterated that Moscow would use all diplomatic means available to prevent expansion.
On a second issue that has divided Moscow and Warsaw, the Russian proposal to build a highway across Poland’s northeastern tip from Belarus to Kaliningrad, Primakov reportedly said that Moscow had reconsidered and would drop the plan. He described the corridor as a "misunderstanding that does not exist anymore." (6)
For all the similarities to Primakov’s meetings with other Eastern European leaders, Poland remains of greater importance to Moscow because of its size, its traditional status as an area of Russian influence, and its location in Europe. Russia’s increasingly close ties with Belarus, moreover, have both increased Poland’s geostrategic importance, and provided yet another reason for Warsaw to seek inclusion in the Western alliance.
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