Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 119

Having suffered a diplomatic setback on the NATO enlargement issue that has left it vulnerable to sniping from nationalists at home, the Kremlin in recent days has made the most of the expanded role that President Boris Yeltsin will play at this week’s Group of Seven (G-7) summit in Denver. During a Moscow press conference yesterday, a deputy chief of Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Georgy Mamedov, observed that the upcoming summit will for the first time issue just one communique rather than two, and that it will carry the signatures of all eight participating nations. Mamedov was also quoted as saying that no document will be signed in Denver without Moscow’s participation, and that "from the first until the last day of work at the summit Boris Yeltsin will participate in discussions on all questions."

Mamedov’s remark appears to be only a slight exaggeration. In fact, unlike past years, when Yeltsin’s participation was limited generally only to the G-7’s political talks, the Russian president this year will be at the table for every meeting and meal except for an afternoon session on June 21 devoted to economic and financial issues — including exchange rates and monetary policy. A separate economic statement, reflecting G7 concerns alone, will be issued in addition to the summit’s concluding communique.

The U.S. has pushed especially hard for the expanded role being granted Russia, justifying that decision on the basis of what Washington says is an over-riding need to enlist Moscow’s cooperation in such areas as the fight against global crime and in the promotion of nuclear non-proliferation. Many observers also see the move as a reward to Russia for its decision last month to sign the Russia-NATO Founding Act, seen by many in the West as a means of facilitating enlargement of the Western alliance. With all this in mind, and despite some earlier misgivings in Tokyo, Washington has dubbed the June 20-22 meeting the "Summit of the Eight."

If Mamedov is any guide, Yeltsin intends to take full advantage of his upcoming appearance on the world stage. The Russian president will reportedly outline several global initiatives in the areas of energy and the environment. He will also apparently lobby to win Western support for Russia’s efforts to promote integration within the CIS, arguing that integration is not a reflection of Russian imperialism but a manifestation of "world-wide tendencies." Mamedov suggested, finally, that Yeltsin intends in Denver to represent the interests of those Russian "partners" who are not represented on the G-7. "Moscow has received a large number of appeals from Latin American, African, and Middle Eastern governments with requests to raise in Denver a variety of questions," Mamedov said. (Russian agencies, June 17; Reuter, June 11, June 15)

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