Albright tell Russians NATO expansion no threat
Feb. 20, 1997
MOSCOW (AP) _ Secretary of State Madeleine Albright tried to convince Russian leaders Thursday that expansion of NATO eastward in the next two years would pose no threat to Moscow.
``We established a working relationship,'' she said after seeing Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Foreign Minister Yvgeny Primakov. A meeting with President Boris Yeltsin was scheduled Friday.
Albright also outlined proposals for linking Russia to NATO with a charter and reducing ceilings imposed under a 1990 treaty on Western tanks and other weaponry deployed in Europe. She also has proposed a joint Russian-NATO military brigade.
In an exchange with reporters, Albright declined to characterize Russia's response to the conciliatory package.
But Russia's deputy national security adviser, Boris Berezivsky, in a magazine article, said the planned NATO expansion would put the Western allies on the verge of a second major geopolitical disaster of the century. He likened it to the West's failure to support Russia's attempted political reform in the World War I era and the resulting lurch to communism.
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, writing in the Italian newspaper La Stampa, warned that NATO expansion would endanger security in all of Europe.
``The implementation of NATO's expansion will antagonize Russian society and set it against the West once again,'' Gorbachev said.
And Gennady Seleznyov, speaker of the Russian Parliament, said ``NATO is a remnant of the Cold War, and we have just learned to live without the Cold War.'' His remarks were carried by the Interfax news agency.
During the two-day trip to Moscow, the sixth stop in an nine-country around the world trip, Albright also planned to appeal for approval by the Russian Parliament of the START II treaty, which sharply reduces long-range U.S. and Russian nuclear missiles.
Albright went directly to a Russian Orthodox monastery on her arrival and met with Patriarch Aleksey II, conversing in both Russian and English. It was a bright, sunny day, tempering the cold weather the Russian capital has been enduring.
``It's a good sign,'' Albright told the patriarch.
Later, she exchanged messages via computer with schoolchildren, including one from the Kent School in Denver, which Albright attended as a child.
The Czech-born secretary of state, who emigrated to the United States with her family after the communist takeover of their country after World War II, said she never expected to be secretary of state. Her aspirations were to learn English, get good grades and start an international relations club.
The NATO allies enjoy a 3-1 superiority over Russia in tanks and other non-nuclear forces in Europe. And the United States and its allies, with the Cold War over, are below their permissible ceilings.
Nevertheless, a senior U.S. official said Albright would offer Russia a ``very significant'' reduction in the ceilings and assurances that the probable entry of such countries as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic would not increase NATO forces in that region of Europe.
The ceilings were imposed by a 1990 accord between NATO and the former Soviet-led Warsaw Pact.