NATO Expansion Makes Waves In Moscow, Again

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MOSCOW: Secretary of State Warren Christopher arrived in Moscow on Thursday for consultations with Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. Christopher's reception in Moscow may be unseasonably chilly, coming on the heels of his reiteration this week of NATO's intention to expand its membership into the former Soviet bloc. The issue could prove troublesome for Yeltsin in the upcoming election campaign, providing anti-NATO Russian nationalists with political capital. NATO's plans to expand are not new. The process has been underway since 1994, and encountered staunch Russian opposition from the start, even though NATO has officially recognized that Russia is not a military threat. "As far as the Russians are concerned, NATO is an anti-Russian military organization," says TIME's Bruce Nelan. "Further, the Czechs, Poles and Hungarians are scared of Russia and are interested in joining what they perceive as an anti-Russian organization. Even so, Russia should not have a veto over NATO expansion just because they don't like it. What the United States should consider, however, is whether it wants to be in the business of providing military guarantees to eastern Europe."