Despite the G-7-Russian agreement in Germany and his own recent efforts to promote a diplomatic settlement of the Kosovo conflict, Russian President Boris Yeltsin returned yesterday to the Cold War-style rhetoric which has marked most Russian commentary on NATO’s air campaign against Yugoslavia. In a statement released to the press, the Russian president warned that “the shadow of war is hanging over Europe today.” The NATO alliance, he said, “is carrying out naked aggression against a sovereign state–Yugoslavia. The bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, bringing death among the civilian population, cannot leave anyone indifferent, especially those who suffered all the horrors of war” (Reuters, May 6).
Yeltsin’s remarks came on a day when he offered former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin an apparent vote of confidence for Chernomyrdin’s recent diplomatic efforts to mediate a settlement of the conflict in Kosovo. Before starting a meeting in the Kremlin with Chernomyrdin, during which Russia’s special envoy was to brief Yeltsin on his recent talks in Europe and the United States, Yeltsin told reporters that he approved of the job Chernomyrdin was doing. Chernomyrdin had not, Yeltsin said, “managed to resolve everything–that is to say, stopping the bombing and so on,” but Moscow had not been counting on that in any event. Yeltsin suggested that Chernomyrdin had, however, brought the positions of Yugoslavia and the United States closer together. “That was his task and, at the present stage, he has coped with his tasks,” Yeltsin said (Russian Public TV, May 6).
Chernomyrdin, and–by extension–Yeltsin himself, have been under fire for Chernomyrdin’s modest success thus far in attempting to mediate the Kosovo conflict. Chernomyrdin has also been accused of being prepared to sell out Belgrade in order to mend fences with the United States (see the Monitor, May 6).
FEDERATION COUNCIL’S ANTIGRAFT COMMISSION HOLDS FIRST SESSION.