A day before he leaves for France and then a New York summit with President Clinton, Boris Yeltsin suggested that he would fire his longest-serving senior official, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev. The statement, an almost offhanded response to a reporter's question, was widely interpreted as a capitulation to Russian nationalists who claim Kozyrev kowtows to the West. But TIME's Sally Donnelly reports that the Russian President is playing a subtler game. "Yeltsin said much the same thing on September 8. Kozyrev won't be fired anytime soon. But if he's going to make political points with Vladimir Zhirinovsky and the Communist Party, he has to hire a more nationalistic minister, and he doesn't want to send such an ugly message on the eve of his trip to France and the U.S. It's a very delicate balancing act."