Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Back to the Cold War? Kozyrev Startles West

STOCKHOLM -- Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev plunged the world back to the Cold War for 45 scary minutes Monday in a risky attempt to dramatize what might happen if reformers lose control in Moscow.


Kozyrev stunned the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe by delivering a Cold War-style speech that appeared to mark an unexpected return to Russian expansionism.


Announcing "some changes in the concept of Russian foreign policy", Kozyrev said that Russian rapprochement with Europe would be limited and that CSCE norms could not be applied fully on the territory of the ex-Soviet Union, Itar-Tass reported.


He accused NATO and the European Community of "interfering in Bosnia and the internal affairs of Yugoslavia", and demanded that the sanctions against former Yugoslavia be lifted.


Otherwise, he warned, "we will reserve the right to take all necessary unilateral measures to protect our interests".


"I couldn't believe, when he said it, that it was serious. But it sounded very serious", said Lawrence Eagleburger, the U. S. secretary of state, who hustled Kozyrev into a side room and demanded an explanation.


To his relief, Kozyrev said he was playing out a deadly serious charade to illustrate what the world could expect if President Boris Yeltsin should lose power to conservatives in Moscow.


Three-quarters of an hour later, Kozyrev retracted his statement in a second speech to the 51-nation forum. But the shocks of the day were not over.


Within four hours came the news from Moscow that acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar was out of office, a victory for conservatives that gave Kozyrev's warning new resonance.


Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel of Germany said the incident reinforced Bonn's determination to support Yeltsin's reformist policies. He was due to leave later to join Chancellor Helmut Kohl on a visit to Moscow.


Kozyrev's spokeswoman, Galina Sidorova, said the Russian foreign minister had kept his intentions secret from his own delegation, whose members listened in amazement as he spoke.


"It was intended as a wake-up call", she said.


Kozyrev, who is under fire from the conservatives for following a foreign policy deemed too pro-Western, said the speech was "a fairly accurate compilation of the demands of what is by no means the most extreme opposition in Russia".


"I did it for the most serious reasons, so that you should all be aware of the real threats on our road to a post-Communist Europe", he said.


The bizarre and unnerving incident dominated the start of a two-day session of the CSCE, which groups countries from Europe, North America and Central Asia.


The conference had been expected to focus on the war in former Yugoslavia, with Eagleburger leading calls for tougher action against Serbia, including a Nuremberg-style war crimes tribunal.


But Eagleburger's proposal faded into the background when Kozyrev took the floor, threatening to use military force and economic pressure against the newly independent republics of the former Soviet Union to reassert Russian domination.


A wave of consternation rolled through the CSCE center as the 51 foreign ministers from Europe, North America and Central Asia tried to digest the message that the brief era of Russian cooperation with the West was apparently over.


Several ministers from former Soviet republics issued declarations mingling fear and defiance. When he returned, Kozyrev declared that neither Yeltsin nor he would ever agree to the sentiments of the first speech.


It had described the territory of the former Soviet Union as "a post-imperial space where Russia has to defend its interests by all available means, including military and economic ones".