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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Primakov Questions West Ties

Post-Communist Russia has gone too far in befriending its Western former Cold War adversaries, Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov said in a newspaper interview published Tuesday.

"At one stage we did all we could to improve relations ... but we must have gone too far," he told the liberal daily Izvestia. "In any case I don't think we can talk about a strategic alliance with our former Cold War opponents. What we can talk about is a civilized partnership or a privileged partnership with some of them."

Also Tuesday, Primakov said he hoped the Czech Republic's intention to join NATO was not prompted by anti-Russian sentiments. Speaking at a news conference after a meeting with his Czech counterpart Josef Zieleniec, Primakov reiterated Russia's opposition to North Atlantic Treaty Organization's eastward expansion, Interfax reported.

Zieleniec confirmed his country's intention to become a member of the alliance, but stressed it was not intended as a slap at Moscow. Asked if the move would affect Russian-Czech relations, Primakov replied, "I prefer to be an optimist."

In the article, he said his ministry was solving the difficult task of finding a new identity in a political arena no longer dominated by Soviet-U.S. confrontation.

"In this situation some forces want to win dominant positions," he said. He appeared to be referring to Washington. But when asked if he meant the United States, he answered: "I diplomatically avoid naming a state. I have already mastered diplomacy."

Primakov said four years in foreign intelligence helped him understand the game of foreign policy and he is using the knowledge he gained as top spy in his new job. "I have acquired essential information there and I use it now that I am a minister," he said.