Russian president Boris Yeltsin has told Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov that he should have consulted the president before making his controversial call for preemptive strikes against terrorist strongholds in the north Caucasus. Yeltsin implied, however, that his own position on the issue was close to Kulikov’s. "But he should have consulted with me before making such statements," the president said, and thus have avoided the storm of criticism that ensued. (Kommersant-daily, January 20)
Both Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin distanced themselves from Kulikov’s call, voiced at the beginning of this month. Of Russian politicians close to Yeltsin, only Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov supported Kulikov. (See Monitor, January 7, 9) Yeltsin’s long silence on the matter generated confusion over whether the deputy premier was expressing his own views or those of the president. Yeltsin’s latest remarks indicate that, on the whole, he approves of Kulikov’s point of view, but is dissatisfied with the "military bluntness" and lack of diplomacy with which it was expressed.
Yeltsin Picks New Air Force Commander, Comments on Military Reform.