News

 

DATE=12/22/97

TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT

NUMBER=5-38504 

TITLE=YEARENDER: RUSSIA FOREIGN POLICY '97

BYLINE=PETER HEINLEIN

DATELINE=MOSCOW

CONTENT=

VOICED AT: 



INTRO:  RUSSIA MADE GREAT STRIDES IN DIPLOMACY DURING THE PAST 

YEAR, PATCHING UP OUTSTANDING BILATERAL DISPUTES, WINNING 

MEMBERSHIP IN IMPORTANT INTERNATIONAL BODIES, AND EVEN PLAYING A 

DECISIVE ROLE IN EASING TENSIONS BETWEEN THE UNITED NATIONS AND 

IRAQ.  BUT AS V-O-A MOSCOW CORRESPONDENT PETER HEINLEIN REPORTS, 

RUSSIA'S FOREIGN POLICY STRATEGISTS STILL ARE STRUGGLING TO 

ESTABLISH A POST-SOVIET IDENTITY.



TEXT:  FROM THE BEGINNING, 1997 LOOKED LIKE A TOUGH YEAR FOR 

RUSSIA.  PRESIDENT BORIS YELTSIN WAS ILL, AND THE COUNTRY'S  

DIPLOMATS WERE DESPERATELY TRYING TO PREVENT THE INEVITABLE -- 

THE EASTWARD EXPANSION OF NATO.



BUT AT AN END-OF-YEAR NEWS CONFERENCE, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE 

FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE IN RUSSIA'S PARLIAMENT, VLADIMIR LUKIN 

CALLED IT A BREAK-EVEN YEAR.



      ///  LUKIN ACT - RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER VOICE OVER  ///



ON THE WHOLE, THE RESULTS OF THIS YEAR HAVE BEEN FIFTY-FIFTY. WE 

HAVE ACCOMPLISHED SOME THINGS, BUT IN MANY IMPORTANT DIRECTIONS, 

WE HAVE FAILED TO ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING.



                        ///  END ACT  ///



MANY OF THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS WERE THE RESULT OF PRESIDENT 

YELTSIN'S PERSONAL DIPLOMACY. THE RUSSIAN LEADER REMAINED HEALTHY

MOST OF THE YEAR, AND KEPT UP A HECTIC SCHEDULE OF FOREIGN 

TRAVELS.



BUT THERE WAS A DOWN-SIDE TO MR. YELTSIN'S HIGH-PROFILE 

DIPLOMATIC FORAYS.  HE SOMETIMES MISSPOKE.  AT A NATO SUMMIT IN 

PARIS, AND LATER DURING A VISIT TO SWEDEN, HE SURPRISED EVEN HIS 

OWN STAFF WITH IMPROMPTU DECLARATIONS ON NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT.



IN BOTH CASES, THE STATEMENTS PROVED TO BE INACCURATE. AFTER THE 

STOCKHOLM COMMENT, SPOKESMAN SERGEI YASTRZHEMBSKY SUGGESTED THE 

PRESIDENT WAS SIMPLY TIRED. 



SOME WESTERN DIPLOMATS, HOWEVER, SAY MR. YELTSIN'S BLUNDERS MAY 

ACTUALLY HAVE A POSITIVE EFFECT.  SUCH DRAMATIC GESTURES HELP TO 

SOFTEN RUSSIA'S TRADITIONALLY CONFRONTATIONAL IMAGE. MOREOVER, 

ANALYSTS POINT OUT, THERE APPEARS TO BE A LOT OF TRUTH IN WHAT 

THE RUSSIAN LEADER SAYS, SINCE HE IS THE ULTIMATE FOREIGN POLICY 

DECISION-MAKER.



BUT VICTOR KREMENYUK OF MOSCOW'S PRESTIGIOUS U-S-A / CANADA 

INSTITUTE SAYS MR. YELTSIN'S IMPROMPTU REMARKS GIVE AN IMPRESSION

OF CONFUSION IN THE KREMLIN.



                     ///  KREMENYUK ACT  ///



         LIKE FOR EXAMPLE HIS STATEMENT IN STOCKHOLM ABOUT 

         UNILATERAL CUTS IN STRATEGIC FORCES AND CONVENTIONAL 

         FORCES.  EVIDENTLY THAT WAS AIMED AT HIS AUDIENCE IN 

         STOCKHOLM, BUT AT THE SAME TIME LEAVING THE IMPRESSION 

         THAT IN SUCH JUMPS OR LEAPS, HE DOES  NOT  ALWAYS 

         CONSIDER REAL POSSIBILITIES OR THAT THE REPORTS HE 

         RECEIVES FROM HIS PEOPLE ARE WRONG.



                        ///  END ACT  ///



STILL, THERE IS A BROAD CONSENSUS MR. YELTSIN'S TRAVELS HAVE BEEN

OVERWHELMINGLY SUCCESSFUL.  FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN 

LUKIN SAYS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT RESULT WAS IMPROVED TIES WITH 

EASTERN NEIGHBORS CHINA AND JAPAN.



     /// 2ND LUKIN ACT - RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER VOICEOVER  ///



         I CAN SAY THE MAIN PLUS HAS BEEN OUR RELATIONS WITH 

         COUNTRIES OF THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION.  WE HAVE 

         ACCOMPLISHED A STRATEGIC BREAKTHROUGH BY CONCLUDING A 

         TREATY WITH CHINA ON DEMARCATION OF THE BORDER.



                        ///  END ACT  ///



RUSSIAN DIPLOMACY ALSO WORKED HARD TO IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH 

FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS.  IN A BIG STEP TOWARD ENDING YEARS OF 

MISTRUST WITH UKRAINE, PRESIDENT YELTSIN MADE A MUCH-DELAYED TRIP

TO KIEV TO SIGN A TREATY ON CONTROL OF THE BLACK SEA FLEET.



MR. YELTSIN ALSO FORMALIZED A DEAL WITH BELARUSSIAN PRESIDENT 

ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO ESTABLISHING A LOOSE UNION BETWEEN MOSCOW 

AND MINSK. 



///  OPT  ///   BUT FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN LUKIN 

CALLED THE ACCORD WITH THE AUTHORITARIAN BELARUS LEADER A 

MISTAKE.



///  OPT  //  3RD LUKIN ACT - IN RUSSIAN -- FADE UNDER VOICE OVER

                               ///



         THE PROBLEM OF BELARUS IS A HEADACHE TO US ALL 

         REGARDLESS OF  POLITICAL AFFILIATIONS BECAUSE WE ALL 

         SENSE SOME IMPROPER THINGS ARE GOING ON THERE.



                 ///  END ACT  //  END OPT  ///



DIPLOMATIC OBSERVERS SAY MR. YELTSIN'S WIDE-RANGING INITIATIVES 

HIGHLIGHT A DIFFICULT CHOICE FACING MOSCOW'S FOREIGN POLICY 

STRATEGISTS.  SHOULD RUSSIA'S TOP PRIORITY BE BETTER TIES WITH 

INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES, OR SHOULD IT ATTEMPT TO STRIKE AN 

INDEPENDENT COURSE AS A WORLD LEADER. 



VICTOR KREMENYUK OF THE U-S-A CANADA INSTITUTE SAYS THE KREMLIN 

LACKS A CLEARLY ARTICULATED GLOBAL STRATEGY.



                   ///  2ND KREMENYUK ACT  ///



         RUSSIA STILL HAS  NO  FOREIGN POLICY GOALS.  THAT STILL 

         IS  SOMETHING ONLY IN THE FUTURE.  SO FAR, WHAT RUSSIA 

         HAS IS EITHER REMNANTS OF THE SOVIET EMPIRE AND REMNANTS

         OF SOVIET OBLIGATIONS OR COMMITMENTS, OR THE NEWLY 

         CREATED PROBLEMS WHICH ARE  NOT  YET SOLVED.



                        ///  END ACT  ///



AMONG THOSE REMNANTS OF THE SOVIET EMPIRE IS RUSSIA'S CLOSE TIES 

WITH PARIAH GOVERNMENTS SUCH AS IRAQ, AND IN PARTICULAR RUSSIAN 

FOREIGN MINISTER YEVGENY PRIMAKOV'S LONG FRIENDSHIP WITH IRAQI 

LEADER SADDAM HUSSEIN.



THAT CONNECTION GAVE RUSSIA AN OPPORTUNITY DURING THE YEAR TO 

MEDIATE THE DISPUTE BETWEEN IRAQ AND THE UNITED NATIONS. 



WESTERN DIPLOMATS CREDIT MOSCOW WITH PLAYING A CONSTRUCTIVE ROLE 

IN AVERTING A MILITARY CONFRONTATION. BUT FOREIGN AFFAIRS 

COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN LUKIN SAYS SUCH INVOLVEMENT CARRIES WITH IT 

ADDITIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES.



  ///  4TH LUKIN ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER VOICE OVER  ///



         DURING THE LATEST CRISIS WITH IRAQ, RUSSIAN DIPLOMACY 

         WAS QUICK TO DERIVE THE MAXIMUM IT COULD FROM THE 

         CRISIS.  ON THE OTHER HAND, THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS 

         REMAIN WHETHER WE HAVE MANAGED TO PREVENT A MILITARY 

         CONFLICT.



                        ///  END ACT  ///



AND ON WHAT BEGAN THE YEAR AS RUSSIA'S MAJOR FOREIGN POLICY 

CHALLENGE, NATO EXPANSION, THE GENERAL CONSENSUS IS THE OUTCOME 

WAS GENERALLY POSITIVE.  THE NATO-RUSSIA FOUNDING ACT SIGNED IN 

PARIS WAS CONSIDERED A KEY STEP FORWARD IN SETTING A NEW 

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FORMER COLD WAR ADVERSARIES..



ALL IN ALL, AS VLADIMIR LUKIN EXPRESSED IT, THE YEAR ENDED 

FIFTY-FIFTY. ANOTHER OBSERVER, A WESTERN DIPLOMAT, PREFERRED TO 

USE THE ANALOGY OF A CARD GAME. HE SAID "RUSSIA MADE THE BEST OF 

A BAD HAND."  (SIGNED)



NEB/PFH/JWH



22-Dec-97 5:34 AM EST (1034 UTC)

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Source: Voice of America

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