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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

President Rethinks Joint Exercises

President Boris Yeltsin, acceding to pressure from parliament, has ordered the Defense Ministry to renegotiate joint U.S.-Russian military exercises scheduled for this summer. "Having studied the opinions of deputies in the Duma, military experts, and the opposition, the president has recommended the minister of defense to conduct additional consultations with the American side," Yeltsin's office said in a statement. In language unusual for a president who has enjoyed mainly hostile relations with parliament, the statement said the consultations should "take into account the stand taken by Russian legislators." Yeltsin is especially interested in winning favor in the Duma at present, as he is trying to coax hostile members of parliament to sign his domestic political peace pact. Last week, the Duma passed a resolution asking Yeltsin to cancel the exercises, citing poor timing. Legislators said divisions over the war in Bosnia and over NATO's Partnership for Peace program gave cause for caution in Russia's relationship with the United States. The maneuvers would not be the first of their kind in recent years, but they were a high-profile sign of growing cooperation between the two former Cold War foes. U.S. and Russian forces completed their second air/sea rescue joint exercise in the Far East last month. The proposed July joint exercise would involve about 250 Americans in the Orenburg region of the Ural Mountains. U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry asked Defense Minister Pavel Grachev in a telephone call Tuesday to press the government not to cancel the exercises, Reuters reported. A U.S. official who asked not to be named said the American side learned of Yeltsin's call for "additional negotiations" through wire agency reports, rather than direct contacts with the Defense Ministry or presidential representatives. Still, the official said he did not see the call as an ominous sign of worsening relations. "We are continuing to work with the Russians on planning the summer exercise," the official said. One Russian military analyst said that Yeltsin's policy appeared to be aimed at appeasing the Duma, as it states, rather than at pacifying any unnamed forces in the military. "Lots of people believe that being anti-American helps them in politics," said Pavel Felgenhauer, defense correspondent of Segodnya. "It's not the Russian military; they'll do as they are ordered."