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Johnson's Russia List


December 19, 1997   
This Date's Issues: 1443  1444 

<x-rich>Johnson's Russia List [List Two]


19 December 1997


United States Information Agency

Foreign Media Reaction Report

<center>18 December 1997



Foreign commentators have been paying careful attention to Russia's

energetic search for allies and for a heightened influence on the

international stage, as well as to Russian President Yeltsin's most

recent bout of illness. The majority of journalists did not expect

many gains from Moscow's recent diplomatic forays in Turkey, the

Baltics, Latin America, Western Europe, or even with Iraq. They were,

however, decidedly concerned by Mr. Yeltsin's ailment. Following are

some of the more interesting assessments made by observers:

'WHEN THE CZAR CATCHES A COLD"--Everyone agreed with centrist

Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich that, "when Yeltsin is sick, it becomes

clear how much everything has concentrated on him." They pointed out

that fears over stability at the top following the announcement of his

hospitalization immediately gave Russia's already shaky financial

markets the shivers. Mr. Yeltsin's illness, added conservative

Catholic La Libre Belgique, "poses the problem of the future of

(Russia's) democratic experiment...and consequently of Europe's


'THE BEAR IS OUT OF HIBERNATION'--Although the media jury was still

out regarding how much influence Russia had regained in the Middle

East with Foreign Minister Primakov's intervention last month with

Iraq, no one doubted that a more assertive Russia is "flexing its

muscles" on many fronts abroad. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin is

currently wooing the Turks during his visit to Ankara. Foreign

Minister Primakov's November tour of Latin America allowed him to sing

the praises of the so-called "multipolar world"--making it clear that

Russia would be one of those poles--and exude what centrist

Nezavisimaya Gazeta of Moscow dubbed his "sympathy" with Latin

American countries opposing the U.S.' Helms-Burton Act.

The two initiatives that piqued the interest of pundits most, however,

were those designed by Mr. Yeltsin to woo the Baltics and two of the

U.S.' leading NATO allies--Germany and France. The Russian leader, in

a visit to Sweden early this month, surprised everyone (most of all

his own staff) by offering to reduce Moscow's nuclear warheads and its

conventional forces. Portrayed by one Russian writer as a bid to nudge

the Baltics to join "a club of Russian friends," it was seen

everywhere else as a ploy "to keep the U.S. out of the Baltic region"

by impeding NATO enlargement in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, as well as

Finland and Sweden. Most onlookers were convinced that Mr. Yeltsin

would find no takers. Liberal tabloid Expressen of Stockholm, for

instance, asserted, "Sweden no longer is a neutral country. Sweden is

a member of the EU and we are also taking part in NATO PFP exercises."

Mr. Yeltsin's next move, his announcement that a "troika" formed by

Moscow, Bonn and Paris will hold its first meeting in Yekaterinburg

next spring, also raised the hackles of European columnists. One

Polish onlooker held that Moscow's aim was simply "to question U.S.

leadership" in Europe and "adjust European architecture" to suit its

interests. The French media apparently ignored the issue, but, in

Germany, a disgruntled centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung and others

concluded, "It is not in the interest of this republic to let itself

be used for anti-American actions."

This survey is based on 68 reports from 14 countries, Nov. 26-Dec. 18.

EDITOR: Mildred Sola Neely


RUSSIA: "NATO Express Moves On, Despite Our Efforts" 

Vladimir Mikheyev said in reformist Izvestia (12/18): "All efforts by

Russian diplomacy to stop NATO's advance to our borders have gone down

the drain. Yevgeny Primakov at some point managed to slow down its

progress, but that only delayed what the opposition in this country

likes to call restoring a sanitary cordon around Soviet Russia. Even

so, the tone Russian diplomats choose in talking about NATO has been

more restrained both in form and substance. While being opposed to

NATO enlargement in principle, Moscow has to resign itself to what has

happened. Evidently, part of the reason the Kremlin has softened up is

that our North Atlantic partners have been so delicate about it all."

"Why Does Eastern Europe Fear Russia?" 

Aleksandr Bovin suggested in mainstream weekly Itogi (12/16): "Rather

than killing our nerve cells by railing against NATO, we should try to

answer the following questions: Why are almost all our Eastern

European neighbors longing to be in NATO? Why do they see danger in

the East, not in the West? Why do they mistrust and fear Russia? If we

screw up our courage and answer those and many other questions, we

will make our foreign policy more purposeful and effective."

"Yeltsin's Ailments Will Forever Cause Monstrous Rumors" 

Mainstream Itogi (12/16) ran this comment by Dmitry Pinsker: "From now

to the end of Boris Yeltsin's presidential term, any ailment in him

will provoke monstrous rumors and rock stock exchanges. There,

objectively, is one reason which partly explains skepticism regarding

the efforts by the presidential press service to assuage concern over

Yeltsin's health among the interested public. That very public will

not for a long time, if ever, forget the wild and clumsy lies fed to

it for months before the plans for heart surgery were announced in the

fall of 1996."

"Stop Baltics From Joining NATO" 

Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (12/17) front-paged a report by Dmitry

Gornostayev in Brussels: "After signing the Founding Act in Paris,

resisting the Baltics' possible admission to NATO has objectively

become Moscow's principal aim on the Western front."

"Good Neighbor, Business Partner" 

Under this headline, official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta (12/17)

ran a comment by Aleksandr Shinkin: "Economic priorities require that

Moscow and Ankara maintain calm, balanced, non-confrontational

political relations. Moscow and Ankara have a lot of mutual and

coincident interests."

"Ties Free Of Outside Influence" 

Georgy Bovt held in reformist Segodnya (12/17): "Turkey's role in

Russia's geopolitical strategy in the Caucasus and the Caspian area is

too important to need bolstering through implicitly or explicitly

contrasting her relations with Russia and Europe. As Viktor

Chernomyrdin stated in Ankara, 'We in Moscow are firm in our desire to

have stable good-neighbor relations with Turkey, hoping to see them

grow into a friendly partnership. We want our economic cooperation and

political relations to be free of transient outside influences."

"Moscow Offers Ankara Strategic Partnership" 

Reporting about Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin's visit to Turkey,

Leonid Gankin remarked in reformist, business-oriented Kommersant

Daily (12/16): "In planning the visit, Moscow could not possibly tell

how well things would turn out in the end. Rejected in the East [a

reference to the latest OIC conference] and the West, Turkey has to

adjust its foreign trade priorities, at a critical moment at which

Russia, talking through Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, offers a

strategic partnership in the economic area."

"Ball Is In The Baltics' Court Now" 

Dmitry Gornostayev pointed out on page one of centrist Nezavisimaya

Gazeta (12/5): "There has been much elation over the proposal of more

than a 40 percent curtailment of Russia's land and naval forces in the

Northwest as evidence of Moscow's resolve to have the military-

political situation in the Baltics stabilized. Now it is for Latvia,

Lithuania and Estonia to decide. Addressed mostly to those countries,

the proposal is meant to persuade them to accept the idea of Russian

security guarantees. The talks in Stockholm might influence their

standing in an indirect sort of way."

"Desperate Initiatives" 

Under this headline, reformist Segodnya (12/4) front-paged a comment

by Pavel Felgenhauer: "The Yeltsin-announced unilateral measures are a

result of an internal crisis. They are addressed to Washington, of

course. Clinton, a once peace champion dodging military service in

Vietnam, may now remember his young days and have pity on the Russian

president, who is working for disarmament, too, and come to Moscow.

And, as he does so, maybe he will help the Russians also to get the

IMF to bolster the ruble."

"Yeltsin Makes A Mistake" 

Dmitry Gornostayev stated on page one of centrist Nezavisimaya

Gazeta(12/4): "Only a country with a monopoly on nuclear weapons can

afford such drastic cuts in its arsenal. But Russia has no such

monopoly. Worse still, it has fewer warheads than Washington. Yeltsin

made a mistake which may result in retarding the START III

negotiations process. The Americans, not ready even for the ceiling of

2,000 to 2,500 warheads, will hardly accept bigger reductions.

Moscow's public statements and commentaries may give the U.S.

congressmen the idea that Clinton and Yeltsin are preparing to disarm

America behind their backs. The Duma deputies may be thinking similar

things with regard to Russia. The Stockholm impromptu is certain to

screw up an emerging agreement between parliament and the government

on START II--the Duma will simply not ratify it."

"Sweden Invited To Join Russian Friends' Club" 

Natalia Gorodetskaya of reformist Segodnya (12/3) underlined about

President Boris Yeltsin's visit to Sweden: "Russia and Sweden share

many concerns: peace in the Baltics, economic cooperation, the

protection of the environment. There is much in common also in their

approaches to those problems: self-reliance, non-involvement in

military blocs. This gives hope that their leaders will be able to

determine 'coincident national interests and develop coordinating

approaches.' Those are not relationships between allies, as pointed

out by members of the presidential administration. 'We don't want

cooperation with Sweden counterposed to relations with third nations.

It is just an invitation for an influential EU member which happens to

be a non-member of military blocs to join a club of Russian friends.'"

"Business Is Business" 

Reformist Izvestia (12/3) ran an article by Stanislav Kondrashov:

"Business is business. Adding

part of the former Soviet Union to the sphere of America's vital

interests has been a shot in the arm for its oil industry. If it has

any luck in the Caspian region, U.S. business will prod Washington to

alter its policy for Iran so it can build an oil pipeline via its

territory.... For Russia a pipeline through Turkey means not only

financial losses but an escalated drift of several post-Soviet

republics to Ankara, away from Moscow. That would only add to 'the

arch of instability.'''

"Primakov In Latin America: Russia Sympathizes On Helms-Burton"

Viktor Sokolov commented in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (12/3) on the

Russian foreign minister's South American tour: "Yevgeny Primakov was

quite consistent in upholding the view that, in an emerging multipolar

system of international relations, a policy whereby interests and

influence are divided and some countries (Iraq, Cuba) are isolated

will wither away to give place to dialogue, compromise and trust.

Russia, he said, sympathizes with the majority of Latin American

countries opposing the Helms-Burton Act on certification, since no

country's laws shall have an extraterritorial quality. As Latin

America plays an ever greater role in world affairs, opposing

aggression and facing new challenges, its non-aligned countries, just

like neutral European nations, will increase the number of advocates

of a new global security system, one without NATO."

"Primakov's Style Wins Sympathy" 

Vadim Markushin commented on the Russian foreign minister's South

American tour in centrist, army Krasnaya Zvezda (11/29): "Yevgeny

Primakov's clear and articulated diplomatic style continues winning

sympathy, with Russian foreign policy increasingly viewed as an

alternative to, not the antipode of, American foreign policy. His

latest tour abroad is quite indicative in that respect. South America,

traditionally, is a kind of backyard for the United States. Nobody has

ever tried to question Washington's influence there.... Perhaps this

is exactly why the Russian foreign minister's ideas evoked such a

vivid and warm response wherever he went."

"U.S. And Russia's Clout In World Affairs" 

Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (11/28) front-paged an article by Aleksei

Pushkov: "The Primakov-aided settlement (temporary?) of the Iraq

crisis is proof that Russia, weak as it is today, has retained clout

in world affairs. But the more it shows, the more strain it might

induce latently in our relations with the United States. Primakov,

however, did nothing that might be interpreted as acting over

America's head or behind its back. People in the Russian Foreign

Ministry insist on Primakov having reached a good understanding with

Madeleine Albright and prizing their relationships. If there is

something the Iraq story shows, it is that America has failed as the

world's sole and absolute leader. The rift in the anti-Iraq coalition

is not so much due to the Iraqi dictator's political talents as to

America's reaction being inadequate to Hussein's actions. A growing

number of countries refusing to follow submissively in America's wake

and a mounting allergy to the American presumption of force are an

inevitable 'compensation' for the United States posing as the world's

leader. 'The only superpower' would do well to think about that,

rather than about non-existent intrigues by Moscow.

"On its part, Russia will have to resign herself to the idea that

attempting to regain her prestige and assert herself as a vigorous and

independent force is bound to evoke displeasure in the United States.

As a former superpower, we are no longer in vogue there. A new,

emerging superpower, China, is. Talking of things Russia can still do

and the United States yet cannot do goes against the grain and makes

the Americans unhappy. America does not want us for an ally. Nor do we

want it for an enemy. Under the circumstances, we would do best, while

cooperating with the United States, to try to 'correct' the excessive

and not always reasonable American might, including by acting as a

mediator and alternative diplomatic and political center. Given the

Americans' claims to absolute leadership, many countries, from France

to China, would like to see Russia play that balancing role.

"And it seems like we have no choice, that is, if we want to remain a

great power."

"Interest In Russia Wanes" 

Stanislav Kondrashov remarked in reformist Izvestia (11/27): "It is an

open secret that America's interest in Russia has been waning,

indifference being a more common feeling among the public, with a

chance to grow into irritation somewhere down the line. We respond in

kind as much as we can, even though, for us, who have a peculiar

predilection for emulating others, to show indifference is certainly

an unaffordable luxury.... In the former Moscow-Washington-Beijing

'triangle,' China constantly changed its stand in keeping with a

'policy of pragmatic balancing.' Its alliances were always phony,

'quasi,' since it always took care not to lose room for maneuver, its

'national egotism' made into a law. China is like the proverbial cat

walking by himself. The trouble with that giant cat is that it needs a

lot of room. Sounds almost threatening. But the imperatives of fast

and stable growth are that being well aware of one's own interests

makes one want to join a common system of equilibrium and security. In

that sense, cooperation between Russia and America would be quite

useful and mutually beneficial."

"U.S. Jealous Of Russia's Success" 

Valeria Sycheva said in reformist Segodnya (11/26): "Jealous of

Moscow's diplomatic success, Washington may toughen its stand and halt

the settlement process."

"South America Hails Multipolar World Concept" 

Commenting on Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov's South American tour,

Yevgeny Bai asserted in reformist Izvestia (11/26): "Primakov's visits

to Brazil and Argentina gave the media little food for thought. It was

mostly protocol, with real political and economic results hardly

visible. What commentaries the Russian minister made on the tour were

mostly on Moscow's diplomatic victories in the Iraq crisis. That and

Russia's international prestige, possibly, dictate the Kremlin's

geopolitical interest in that faraway continent. The South Americans,

just like our neighbors in Asia, welcome a multipolar world concept

and want to be in big-time politics."

GERMANY: "Once The Czar Catches A Cold..." 

Moscow correspondent Miriam Neubert filed the following editorial for

centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (12/12) under the headline

above: "If reports on Yeltsin's sick leave signal the beginning of new

times of uncertainty, accompanied by hypocritical appeasing reports

and adjourned decisions, we need to be alarmed. When Yeltsin is sick,

it becomes clear how much everything has concentrated on him.... If he

can no longer act as president...a destructive standoff will be

looming in Russia.... However, for the time being, the latest illness

of the president has no direct political effect. In contrast to 1996,

the country has calmed down--primarily because of Yeltsin's new tactic

of making compromises. This refers to his attempt to bring the

national and communist opposition for talks to the negotiating table

and to integrate them into government decisions. The danger of a

return of the communists to power seems to have been warded off....

"However, the consequences of his illness for the economy are graver.

A trend was in the offing on the Russian financial markets....

Investors returned only to be confronted with the news about a setback

of Yeltsin's health. This shows how vulnerable the country with a sick

czar at the top really is. The reforms will be in jeopardy if a

healthy Kremlin leader does not push them. The government is

confronted with the task of integrating the country into the global

economy and, at the same time, of integrating powerful groups...into

showing responsibility for the state as a whole. If the flight of

capital and taxes goes on, the state will go bankrupt. In order to

prevent this, a strong and decisive president is necessary at the top.

The last thing Russia needs is a new time of uncertainty."

"Smart Move" 

In right-of-center Bonner Rundschau (12/4), Sandro Schmidt

editorialized on Russia's announcement to send Russian troops for an

extended Bosnia mandate: "Moscow's official offer exerts additional

pressure on U.S. President Bill Clinton. It would be unthinkable even

after the end of the Cold War that the European NATO states together

with Russia would secure peace in Bosnia without the United States.

Despite all newly gained friendship, the rivalry in the international

arena remains. The recent Russian diplomatic coup in the Iraq crisis

had the United States standing by watching the Kremlin performing.

With its smart move, Moscow used the stage in Brussels to demonstrate

that it is willing to take responsibility and that it asks to be taken

seriously as a political force."

"The Primakov Doctrine" 

Werner Adam commented in right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine(12/4):

"Talking about Russian foreign and security policy, Yeltsin sometimes

confuses the issues. His ministers and advisers find themselves in

embarrassing and confusing situations in order to correct what he just

said. Lately, they have been referring to the so-called Primakov

doctrine. According to it, Russia wants good relations with the United

States and the West in general, but the Americans need to understand

that, in addition to themselves, there are other countries which have

some influence and political weight. In the recent Iraq crisis this

doctrine became obvious to the world.... Russia could not resist the

temptation to use the growing dissatisfaction in the Arab world

against America....

"The cooling in the Russian-American relations is not only due to the

Iraq crisis, but also to the impetuous American striving for influence

on the development in the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea. There are huge

oil and gas fields that American companies, with the open political

support of their government, would like to develop and exploit. But

Russia, which until recently used to have sole control on the energy

resources of the Soviet republics, views this as an American attempt

to push Russia out of a lucrative business.... As long as the Primakov

doctrine is applied, there may well be tensions and crises between

Moscow and Washington, but we do not need to fear a fall back in the

confrontation pattern of the Cold War."

"Paris, Berlin, Moscow" 

Josef Joffe's editorial in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich

read (12/2), "For a long time, Yeltsin, president of the loser state

of the Cold War, has been thinking of ways of building up

counterforces to the...'sole remaining superpower.'... Since Charles

de Gaulle, the French are trying to play a similar game. Despite being

allies of the United States, they rarely miss an opportunity to get in

a dig. 'Balance of power' is the name of the game-- counterforces and

counteralliances. The European integration, if possible without

England, was used to incorporate Germany and contain the big American

brother. The friendship agreement with Bonn, the European Common

Market, the monetary union are all strategies against omnipotent

America. This old--and not very successful--game of Paris is just what

Moscow needs...

"A new political weight called Paris-Berlin-Moscow? That fits into the

world of the 21st century like a typewriter for the Internet. A

typewriter has the same key board as a computer, but one cannot 'surf'

with it--for two reasons. The first reason is Germany. It is not in

the interest of this republic to let itself be used for anti-American

actions, and that is exactly why one is surprised why Kohl even agreed

to this troika summit. What could be won with this trio? To attack the

long-time ally together with Moscow and Paris? To endanger a relation

which gave Germany more blessings than it could ever hope for after

1945--and the last time during reunification?

"The second reason: this cabinet play does not work anymore. These

days, world politics is not about land, maritime supremacy or

hegemony.... The world game is cooperation, not

confrontation...The game is global, not national and those who try to

shut themselves off or look for bloc-building are losing. Boris

Yeltsin also knows that. He can anger Clinton with a three-party

meeting but what else? To get financial assistance, know-how and

market access from Paris? The EU just refused to give him bigger

import quotas for textiles."

"Not Against America?" 

Right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine (12/3) included this analysis

by Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger, "The explosive diplomatic force of this

meeting lies in Moscow's, and possibly Paris's, intention to

strengthen Europe against America. If those three large continental

states intensify their political coordination, that may well be seen

in Washington as an attempt to build a 'counter force.' For quite some

time now, the Clinton administration has been facing Russian

challenges and French contrariness.... Controversial issues among

Russia, France and the United States are not restricted to Iraq; Iran,

NATO enlargement and international trade policy are also controversial

topics. In light of this, the German government can not be seriously

interested in allowing the image of an anti-American coalition. Even

if Germany for some time now has been complaining about American

impatience in dealing with partners and the American penchant for

shirt-sleeved world politics, the wish for stronger European

participation in regional conflicts and transatlantic issues should

not lead to a dangerous self-deception. Germany--and the same is true

diplomatic diplomatic diplomatic diplomatic for France--would only

harm itself were Washington to accuse it of playing Russia's game and

participating in a risky competition for influence in Europe and

beyond. One could consider this as being an exaggeration and take the

`troika summit' for what it is: A therapeutic idea, to make Russia

feel better after the rejection in the argument over NATO enlargement.

But that will barely change Washington's perception. Subsequently,

Bonn is already saying that the German participation is preventing the

new troika from turning against America."

BRITAIN: "Yeltsin's Importance Can Hardly Be Overstated"

In the view of the independent Financial Times (12/12): "The

tremendous powers vested in the Russian presidency, and the fragility

of the country's young democracy and market economy, mean Mr.

Yeltsin's personal importance can hardly be overstated.... It will

take more than mute video footage to reassure jittery markets and

calculating politicians that the Kremlin leader really still rules


"Yeltsin Woos Baltic States With Massive Cut In Troops" 

According to the conservative Daily Telegraph from Moscow (12/4):

"President Yeltsin announced a massive cut in armed forces along

Russia's northwest border yesterday, in the hope of proving to the

Baltic region that the 'threat from the East' had disappeared

forever.... His announcement of troop cuts was a blandishment to

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to stop them trying to join NATO."

"Yeltsin Undermines Baltics' Case For Speedy NATO Entry" 

The liberal Guardian said (12/4) the announced cuts in armed forces

"undermin(ed) the Baltic states' case for speedy NATO entry and

effectively acknowledging that there is no Western military threat to

(Yeltsin's) country."

"Ceding Influence With Little Debate?" 

The right-wing weekly Spectator had this article by the conservative

Daily Telegraph's leader writer Dean Godson (11/28): "Last week it

looked as though the Middle East was under American hegemony; this

week it looks more like a shared U.S. condominium with Russia.... The

Clinton administration thus overturned nearly 30 years of American

policy in the Middle East--whose guiding light was to minimize the

influence of other outside powers.... Several

long-serving diplomats in Washington believe that (Deputy Secretary of

State) Strobe Talbott was able to persuade Secretary of State

Madeleine Albright to allow Russia to play a part in resolving this

(current) crisis--especially after Russia had suffered the humiliation

of NATO enlargement. Unless Primakov appeared to be the hero of the

hour--so the argument ran--America's relations with Russia would

suffer.... Time will tell whether these calculations prove to be

correct. But one thing is certain: For better or worse, rarely can a

superpower have voluntarily ceded influence with less struggle or

debate amongst its political elite."

ITALY: "European Troika"

Left-leaning, influential La Repubblica's editorial mused (12/2):

"They call it a troika, and the name could not be more appropriate,

since it is a plan put forward by counterbalance the

United States in the international arena.... In some regards, it is a

natural event. After a 'honeymoon' which began with the collapse of

the USSR...during which...Moscow seemed like a servant of Washington,

Yeltsin's new democratic Russia is trying to regain some of the

prestige and influence that its ancestor, the Soviet Union, had in the

world.... Nothing strange, or tragic, up to a certain point. But the

new Russian anti-Americanism is also the result of the absent-minded

approach, not to call it something else, with which Washington has

looked upon Moscow in recent years. Faced with the chaos and

difficulties of Russian transition, the United States gave priority in

its foreign policy to other needs, since, even if Russia was unhappy,

what could it do in any case? If they continue to think this way, one

day they might realize that, perhaps with a new leader in the Kremlin,

Russia is again an adversary rather than a partner. And then the

strategists at the Pentagon will remember that it is the only nation

in the world capable of destroying the United States with its nuclear


"Primakov Did Not Succeed In Putting Moscow Back In Mideast"

An analysis in provocative, classical liberal Il Foglio (11/28)

focuses on Primakov's recent "mediation" in the crisis with Iraq: "In

reality, Primakov has not succeeded in putting Moscow back among the

group of capitals which indeed play a leading role on the Middle East

scene. The lack of economic means with which to help concretely the

USSR's former allies, mainly Syria, represents a serious limitation to

Russia's chances of exerting its influence. Over the last year, Russia

has been unable to emerge from an impasse somewhat caused by

Primakov's tactical games: It has failed to achieve a position of

influence with Israel and, at the same time, has been unable to

harness Arab dissatisfaction. A sort of quagmire from which Moscow has

temporarily emerged with Primakov's mediation in the crisis with Iraq,

but which continues to represent a problem.... It will be enough for

the United States to rediscover the importance, and the pleasure, of

diplomatic flexibility to prevent Primakov from strengthening his new

bridgehead in the Gulf."

"Yeltsin's 'Troika': To Defy U.S.?" 

Moscow correspondent Enrico Franceschini filed for left-leaning,

influential La Repubblica (12/1): "Strengthened by the successful

peace mediation in the crisis with Iraq, Yeltsin inaugurated yesterday

a new pole aimed at hindering American dominion on the world: a

Russian-French-German troika, with the first meeting to be held next

spring in Ekaterinburg, Yeltsin's birthplace.... For now, the idea of

an annual meeting has a limited objective: to give three European

powers the chance to meet regularly to discuss the problems of the new

world architecture following the end of the Cold War.

"But its symbolic value is much stronger, mainly in the intentions of

Yeltsin and Chirac, who are more interested than Kohl in creating a

political counter-weight to the growing influence of the United States

in international affairs.... A sort of challenge to America's

over-power, a way to remind the international community that

Washington cannot decide alone on the fate of the world. An initiative

which has obvious economic implications, as appears from the recent

French-Russian alliance in beginning a series of agreements and

investments with Iran notwithstanding the strong opposition of the

United States.... In addition to Moscow's hopes to restore its role as

a superpower, perhaps there is also another element to consider in

yesterday's announcement: When a superpower has serious problems at

home, there is nothing better than an ambitious foreign policy gimmick

to try to divert the attention of the local public."

"A Bipolar World?" 

Fabrizio Dragosei, commenting from Moscow in centrist, top-circulation

Corriere della Sera (11/30), maintained: "The idea seems to be a sort

of continental Europe super-directorate among Moscow, Paris and Bonn

which, at least in the intentions of Boris Yeltsin and Jacques Chirac,

would serve to balance the influence of NATO. At a time when the

Atlantic Alliance is expanding to include three new countries that

were former members of the Warsaw Pact, Moscow is resuming its

international diplomatic offensive in grand style, in order to

repropose its role as the second pivot point of international

strategy.... This is the line, already announced on several occasions,

of the search for a 'multipolar' world in opposition to the world

characterized by a single hegemonic superpower, the United States of

America. The only thing is that Yeltsin and his able Foreign Minister

Primakov have a view of a multipolar world which closely resembles the

bipolar world of recent memory. This new doctrine has been discussed

and agreed upon with several countries and, in all cases, it always

ended up rotating around a single pivot, Russia."

BELGIUM: "Problem Of Stability Of Power In Moscow"

In conservative Catholic La Libre Belgique (12/17), Philippe Paquet

wrote that President Yeltsin's illness "poses the problem of the

stability of power in Moscow, of the future of the democratic

experiment which is taking place there, and consequently of Europe's

security. By itself, it justifies the continued existence of the

Atlantic Alliance."

"Yeltsin's Promises Won't Eliminate Russophobia" 

Foreign affairs writer Jorn De Cock held in independent Catholic De

Standaard (12/4) and independent Catholic Het Nieuwsblad (12/4): "The

Baltic and Scandinavian nations are certainly happy that the troop

reductions will take place on their borders. However, it is very

unlikely that Yeltsin thus eliminates the Russophobia of the three

small Baltic states. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania consider Moscow as

their only foe.... They see a way out only in NATO and the EU--

notwithstanding all those gifts.... Nevertheless, there is positive

news for the world in Yeltsin's strange mania for promises: A

president with good intentions is less dangerous than a president with

bad ones."

CANADA: "Russian Muscle-Flexing: The Bear Is Out Of Hibernation" 

The business-oriented Financial Post (11/25) said: "Increasingly, the

newly converted pro-capitalists in power in Russia seem to be pursuing

foreign policies suspiciously similar to Soviet policies of the past.

The most recent example relates to United Nations' sanctions imposed

on Iraq. It suddenly intervened in the confrontation without prior

consultation with the United States, launching its own compromise to

defuse the looming showdown with Iraq. Despite their ostensible

democratic credentials, it appears the new power brokers in Moscow

believe in the old adage that countries don't have eternal friends,

they have eternal interests.... Bosnia and Iraq were simply foretastes

of what to expect in coming months as Moscow flexes its muscles,

though with markedly diminished clout from its previous incarnation as

the Soviet Union. Nevertheless it is clear the slumbering Russian bear

has awoken from the long hibernation imposed upon it by the collapse

of communism in 1991."

DENMARK: "To Keep U.S. Out Of Baltic Region" 

Center-right Berlingske Tidende judged (12/4): "Yeltsin's proposal to

reduce Russia's military presence in the Baltic region seems, at first

glance, dramatic. The military effectiveness of the Russian forces is,

however, extremely limited, and furthermore, it is hard to find a way

to justify the maintenance of such a large number of troops in the

region. Yeltsin is, therefore, making a virtue out of what is, in

reality, a necessity. Yeltsin's proposals are largely of political

significance. By reducing its military capacity in the region, Russia

hopes to convince NATO that Baltic membership is not necessary. If

this strategy is allowed to succeed, Russia will have achieved its

goal--to keep the U.S. out of the Baltic region. It is, of course,

positive that Moscow has confirmed its intention to reduce its

military capacity in one of the most heavily militarized zones of the

Cold war, however, the Russian initiative must not stop the Baltic

countries from achieving their goal of NATO membership."

HUNGARY: "Yeltsin, The Great Puppeteer"

This piece ran in centrist, conservative Magyar Nemzet (12/17),

"President Yeltsin feels better, it seems, but it is hard to know with

him sometimes. He, however, cannot stay ill for months this time

because after the holidays, normally in mid-January in Russia, he has

to proceed with major issues. He, for instance, is only halfway

through reshuffling his cabinet.... He realized that he had to choose

between Anatoli Chubais and Viktor Chernomyrdin, which requires

thorough consideration. But reform leader Chubais has only one month

left to put the economy in good shape--not much of a chance there--and

a second dismissal of him might well strengthen the position of

Chernomyrdin.... In Russia, the future of the country is not in the

hands of the people, but in those of the great puppeteer, who

postponed the second act to next January."

"Significant Stockholm Announcement" 

Influential Magyar Hirlap carried this op-ed piece by Csaba

Szerdahelyi (12/4): "In any event, Washington did not attribute great

significance to the proclamation in Sweden, while NATO is curiously,

but with some resignation, waiting for details. Yeltsin has already

said things his own men had a hard time 'interpreting' afterwards.

Still, the announcement in Stockholm is significant, and Brussels

should be very happy about it. It is also feasible that Yeltsin has

decided to shape foreign policy all by himself, and stopped listening

to his foreign minister even in the most important issues."

POLAND: "At The Moment There Is Nobody Who Can Replace Yeltsin" 

Centrist Rzeczpospolita said in a piece by Piotr Jendroszczyk in

Moscow (12/16), "One can but only admit that beyond Yeltsin there is

no other politician in Russia who could guarantee that the free-

market transformations be continued. Obviously, there are those who

speak openly about the need for still more radical changes, but they

have a meager chance to implement their programs. The conclusion is

obvious: At the moment there is nobody who can replace Yeltsin.

Whether he wishes this or not, he will have to remain in the Kremlin."

"Yeltsin's Health: Serious Political Concern"

Leopold Unger remarked in center-left Gazeta Wyborcza (12/12), "It

turns out that the health of Russia's president continues to be a

serious political concern, which testifies that Russia as a state is

still a very fragile body whose reliability is based solely on one

man's authority."

"Russia Out To Play Crucial Role In Europe"

The announcement of the European "troika" prompted this assessment in

center-right Gazeta

Wyborcza (12/8) by Leopold Unger, "Russia's interest is clear--Moscow

is embarking on a French-German locomotive in order to play a crucial

role in Europe."

"Moscow Sees An Opening?"

Maria Wagrowska cautioned in centrist Rzeczpospolita (12/8), "Russia

is changing its policy towards the Baltic states and Northern Europe-

-but only in appearance. The strategic objective--which is to impede

NATO enlargement with [the future membership of] Lithuania, Latvia,

Estonia, as well as Finland and Sweden--remains the same. Russia's

categorical 'no' to the plans to include in NATO the countries of the

'near abroad' has transformed into a 'yes' for enclosing the eastern

part of the Baltic region within [Russia's] 'zone of trust.' This is

the core of Russia's initiative voiced by Boris Yeltsin during his

visit to Stockholm. And it is only a variant of an [earlier] proposal

by Moscow, already rejected by Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn, to give the

post-Soviet republics its guarantee of security. It appears that the

countries of Northeastern Europe do not have their security ensured to

an extent comparable to that of the Western and Central part of the

continent, and that Moscow is taking advantage of this situation."

"Will Russia Find Partners Eager To Divide Europe Again?"

Centrist Rzeczpospolita said (12/3), "Once the Russians believed that

they would succeed in convincing the Americans to establish the

concept of a 'concert of powers,' under which Moscow and Washington

would be expected to divide the responsibility for monitoring the

world order set up by them. When it turned out that this widely

publicized Russian-American 'strategic partnership' was in

vain...Russia hurriedly started to look for new partners and potential

allies: China and Japan--in the Far East; and France and Germany--in

Europe. In both cases, the aim is the same--to question U.S.

leadership. Only then, the Kremlin strategists say, would Moscow have

a chance to maintain its superpower position....

"But what is behind Russia's 'return-to-Europe' slogans is the old

program of adjusting Europe's architecture to the conditions set by

Moscow. Only the methods have changed--the proposal to create the

'great triangle' is one of them, with the threat to reanimate

geopolitical phantoms from the past and another division of the

continent which is just being united. Will Russia manage to find

partners eager to play the game which will eventually lead to the ruin

of the whole of Europe?... It is a futile effort. It is more than

dubious that Moscow would succeed in embroiling Paris and Bonn with

Washington. Warsaw, for its part, has no interest in it."

SWEDEN: "Sweden Is No Longer Neutral, Mr. Yeltsin" 

Liberal tabloid Expressen commented editorially (12/2), "Welcome to

Sweden, Boris Yeltsin. You have arrived in a country that speaks with

two voices. We have done this for such a long time that we hardly

think of it any longer. But there must be a purpose for your visit to

Sweden, and we have a feeling that you would like to counter a

possible Finnish, Baltic and Swedish NATO membership. Swedish

politicians might have enticed you to believe that Sweden shares this

aim. But we do not. Politicians do as they usually do, say one thing

and do another. That is why Expressen will tell you how things are.

The last thing we need now are polite diplomatic empty phrases about

Baltic Sea cooperation.

"Sweden no longer is a neutral country. During the Cold War Swedish

membership in the EU was regarded incompatible with our policy of

neutrality. Today the Cold War has ended, Sweden is a member of the EU

and we are also taking part in NATO PFP exercises. We have troops in

Bosnia under NATO command, and will soon begin arms cooperation with

NATO. Swedish generals are planning for defense within a NATO context.

"During the whole post-World War II period, we have had secret defense

cooperation with the West. Everyone but the Swedish people knew about

this. Today our cooperation can take

place in the open, to the benefit of security and democracy.... Sweden

must stop playing the hypocrite, and our politicians must say what

they now think."

"Lukewarm War Over The Baltic"

Readers of conservative Svenska Dagbladet (11/27) saw this in

expectation of the Yeltsin visit, "When Russian President Boris

Yeltsin on Wednesday, December 3, delivers his address before the

Swedish parliament, the Baltic Sea states will follow it closely....

Yeltsin's speech will be the first one delivered in the West for quite

a long time, and his Swedish hosts have repeatedly told the Russians

that they are not keen on hearing about Russian security guarantees,

but rather would appreciate concrete signals about increased civilian

and economic cooperation. From the Russian side the presidential visit

is a part of its offensive in the lukewarm war over the Baltic Sea.

Despite the fact that the Cold War has come to an end, a truly warm

peace has not yet materialized....

"Because of NATO's new eastern border, the big powers' strategic

interests have moved towards Northeast Europe. Russia's interest in

the region and its changing rhetoric should be regarded as a

reflection of an increased American interest in the Baltic Sea region.



CHINA: "U.S.-Russia Contest In Baltics Inevitable?"

The official Communist Party People's Daily (Renmin Ribao, 12/9)

featured this assessment by Xu Hongzhi, "The media believe that

Yelsin's visit to Sweden is a 'new diplomatic campaign' by Russia.

Russia's intention to use the Baltic region as its target of new

diplomatic campaign has some association with its efforts to prevent

the three Baltic states from entering NATO. Apart from waving olive

branches at Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Russia is devoting active

efforts to gain sympathy and support from Finland and Sweden and

counts on them to have indirect influence on the three nations.

However, it is not an easy thing to persuade the three countries to

give up their ideas to enter NATO. The United States, especially, will

not readily give in. It seems that a contest between Russia and the

United States is inevitable in the region."

MONGOLIA: "Russian Foreign Policy Oriented To East"

Independent Unooder (12/4) concluded in a piece by staff reporter B.

Enkhtsetseg, "Moscow is focusing its efforts on a foreign policy

oriented to the East. Following his meeting with Japanese Prime

Minister Rutaro Hashimoto and his visit to China, Russian Federation

President Yeltsin succeeded in having Russia become a member of APEC

at [the organization's] ninth meeting, held in Vancouver....

[Previously] Russia's unstable domestic situation led several APEC

members to oppose its membership bid. But this time Russia has become

an APEC member.... It seems the members of APEC consider Moscow a

reliable partner."


EGYPT: "Up To Russia?"

Ibrahim Nafie, editor-in-chief of pro-government Al Ahram, wrote

(12/9): "After the fall of the Eastern bloc and the end of the Cold

War...the world has come to live in a transformation that is full of

immature policies..... The new world should have been based on

peaceful co-existence.... However, the end of the Cold War was

depicted by some Western powers as, not as a victory of sound mutual

thinking and the victory of wisdom over destruction, but it was

building future policies on power. A country can no longer express

disagreement or defend its sovereignty, without finding itself

suffering the American show of power.... Is it time for

Washington to rethink the mode of international relations? Can Russia,

by continuing to be an effective power, renew this mode?"


ARGENTINA: "Russian Rapprochement With Latin America" 

An editorial in leading Clarin read (11/28): "Russian Prime Minister

Primakov's Latin American tour achieved its goal in reflecting the

interest in establishing new foreign links, and provided the chance to

observe, through a different looking glass, the opportunities and

challenges offered by the post-Cold War international scene.

Primakov's trip had, also, additional repercussions due to the

unexpected success achieved by Russian diplomacy in the U.S. crisis

with Iraq.... The most recent steps taken by Yeltsin's second

government, in which Primakov's figure appears with growing

leadership, indicates the intention of placing Russia in the position

of autonomous and decisive superpower in its search for international

balance; with influence in Central Asia, the Middle East and the so-

called 'Islamic world.' This is the context of the diplomatic

offensive in Latin America, away from the days of bipolarism,

ideological frontiers and military-political blocs. It is an answer,

at the same time, to NATO's enlargement to include Eastern Europe and

to the difficult dilemma between extreme openness and isolationism. In

sum, an initiative aimed at achieving its place as a power factor has

led Russia in search of economic opportunities in a multipolar



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