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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Plays a Coy Game On Partnership for Peace

Defense Minister Pavel Grachev set out for NATO headquarters in Brussels this week to deliver a lecture entitled "European Security and the Partnership for Peace" to his former adversaries and to inform them about Russia's new military doctrine. For Western military and political analysts, the most interesting point in Russia's new military doctrine is the procedure for the possible use of nuclear weapons. "They would like to know against whom are we planning to use these weapons," Grachev told me with a laugh a few days before he left for Brussels. The West would also like to know when Russia will finally sign the Partnership for Peace framework document. At the beginning of May, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter traveled to Moscow primarily to learn the details of Russian procedures concerning the possible use of nuclear weapons. In recent years there have been a number of armed uprisings and attempted uprisings in Moscow, which have sparked concern on the part of Western analysts about the reliability of Soviet and Russian nuclear security systems. Carter even brought along two generals who are specialists on this topic. They offered to hold a briefing, but nothing came of it. When I asked one of the Russian deputy defense ministers whether Carter was being stonewalled on the nuclear question, he answered: "In short, yes. We officially thanked Carter for his interesting initiative and told him that we will study it. In principle, we are planning to reveal several of our nuclear secrets to a certain extent, but not now." Russia's position on the Partnership for Peace program has also become clearer. Last week, Grachev explained Moscow's official position to the French foreign minister, Alain Juppe. Russia will sign the framework agreement only if there is a parallel agreement in which the mutual obligations of NATO and Russia in both the political and military spheres are laid out in detail. Even if the majority of NATO countries agree with Moscow's initiative, it will take several months or even years to work out the details. In his statement on Tuesday, Grachev again said that the two agreements must be signed simultaneously. That probably means that Russia's membership in the Partnership for Peace program has been put off indefinitely. But we should not interpret this as "the machinations of reactionary generals." Today, only President Boris Yeltsin makes final decisions in Moscow. Yeltsin has made an expedient political decision not to irritate influential factions in the Duma by signing the NATO proposal. The Partnership for Peace can wait. Pavel Felgenhauer is the defense and national security editor for Segodnya.