Less than a week before the presidential election Boris Yeltsin did some tough talking on foreign policy. In an interview with Interfax yesterday he said that Moscow would make territorial concessions to no country, and that Russia intends to strengthen its naval presence in the Baltic. "We have no territorial claims against other countries, and we do not accept the territorial claims of others upon ourselves," Yeltsin declared. Estonia and Japan have raised territorial issues with Russia, and voices have occasionally been heard in Europe arguing for demilitarization of Russia’s Kaliningrad oblast. On that last point Yeltsin assured "all of those who have any doubts" that Russia does not intend to retreat from the Baltic and actually plans to "strengthen and develop" its Baltic Fleet base at Baltiysk. He added that Russia is opposed even to the hypothetical extension of NATO influence to the Baltic States, and said that he had U.S. president Bill Clinton to apprise Baltic leaders of that fact.
On another subject, but in an equally bellicose vein, Yeltsin commented on new restrictions placed by Ankara on the passage of tankers though the Turkish Straits. He said that "Russia will react strongly to any attempts to change the status of the Black Sea straits and to turn the Black Sea into yet another springboard for NATO and non-Black Sea states." Claiming that it would be an "illusion to think we are living in some rosy world," Yeltsin also complained that eleven foreigners had been expelled and 28 Russians arrested in 1995 for spying. "There are quite a few things that are keeping our security services busy," he said. (Interfax, Reuter, AP, June 30)
Yeltsin Makes TV Appearance to Reassure Voters.