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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Diplomats Maintain Optimism

A day after Russia's foreign minister temporarily revived Cold War rhetoric to dramatize the danger posed by conservative forces, Western diplomats in Moscow said they expected continued stability under the country's new prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin.


On Monday, Andrei Kozyrev gave a hardline, anti-Western speech in Stockholm before the American secretary of state and top diplomats of 50 other nations. Only 45 minutes later did he announce that the entire speech had been a charade to shock the group into supporting Russia's reformers.


"Sometimes we have to use nontraditional ways to achieve our aims", said Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the Foreign Ministry's top spokesman.


"We wanted to show our anxiety for the destiny of reform and democracy in Russia, so that you could feel yourself in that atmosphere which could appear if the opposition comes to power".


In Stockholm, foreign ministers at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe reacted cautiously to Chernomyrdin's appointment, Reuters reported.


"We are following what happens very closely", the Finnish foreign minister, Paavo Vayrynen, told a news conference.


Sweden's foreign minister, Margaretha af Ugglas, said that Kozyrev's shock tactics had galvanized the meeting.


"It was as if an icy wind from the Cold War had blown into the hall", she said. "We all felt it".


But several Moscow-based diplomats said that Kozyrev, a chief target of conservative legislators, had overdramatized the danger of a new Soviet-style Cold War foreign policy from Russia. Ukraine's foreign minister called the speech a "very dangerous joke".


"I don't see anything that would indicate that such things are coming in the short future", said Shotaro Oshima, the Japanese Embassy's top political officer.


A European diplomat who asked not to be named added: "The extremists on the left and the right are forces in action, but I think one should not overestimate them".


During Kozyrev's speech, he announced that Russia sought to reconstitute the Soviet Union, and he demanded that the West stop meddling in Yugoslavia's affairs -- or else.


During the Congress of People's Deputies that concluded this week, delegates called for both a stronger confederation of Soviet states and a review of Russia's sanctions policy against Serbia.


"If you just look at the results of the debate of the Supreme Soviet and the Congress, yes, there is a real threat of change in the headlines in foreign policy", said Aldo Amati, a second secretary at the Italian Embassy. But he added: "I'm not so pessimistic because I think the president is in charge of foreign policy still".


During a press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yastrzhembsky said the new prime minister did not threaten to change Russian foreign policy into the anti-Western crusade enacted by Kozyrev on Monday.


"Let's not forget he was a member of Gaidar's cabinet during its course for reform, so I'm sure the foreign minister was referring to other political forces", he said.