Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 54

The road to Helsinki remained a rocky one yesterday as Russian president Boris Yeltsin unleashed yet another barrage of criticism at the Western alliance while three days of pre-summit talks in Washington between Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov and U.S. leaders concluded with little apparent progress. Yeltsin’s tone was belligerent in his latest remarks to reporters on the upcoming summit and on Russian negotiations with the West over NATO enlargement and related issues. The Russian president said that Moscow had already made enough concessions on the NATO issue and that the U.S. would have to make some of its own "in order to preserve our [Russian-American] partnership." Yeltsin also suggested that Russia is unimpressed by NATO’s military might, but that it fears the alliance’s expansion could lead to a "Western blockage of Russia, which we can’t allow." Yeltsin also took pot shots at the West on several other issues, including an upcoming NATO exercise in the Black Sea and Washington’s opposition to Russia’s entry into various international economic organizations. (Interfax, AP, Reuter, March 17)

In Washington, meanwhile, White House press spokesman Mike McCurry attempted to put the best face on yesterday’s meeting between Primakov and U.S. president Bill Clinton, saying that the two had had a "good review" of issues to discussed at the summit in Helsinki. But McCurry’s admissions that "there’s still work to be done" and that "there will likely continue to be some disagreements" after the summit seemed to reflect an absence of progress in the talks. Primakov met over the weekend with U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright and Secretary of Defense William Cohen, but U.S. officials said afterward only that while the talks had been "intensive and cooperative," they were only "in some cases productive." (Reuter, UPI, March 17)

Financial, Labor Tensions Mounting in Norilsk.